> Reprinted in: Fantastic Four Masterworks Volume 3  •  Fantastic Four Omnibus Volume 1

From the Mouths of the Marvels:

"Is this the Thing? My cat took one look at you yesterday and ran away from home! What do you intend to do about it??"

- - Angry neighbor, calling FF on telephone to complain, page 4

Sue demonstrates her new power. Maybe NOW she’ll stop crying!


Fantastic Four #22
January 1964 • 22 pages

Publication Date: October 8, 1963

Letters Page: Page OnePage Two

House Ad: Ad #1

I: Feature Story: "The Return of the Mole Man!"

Pages: 22

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: George Roussos (credited as George Bell)
Letters: Sam Rosen

First Appearance: Subterraneans, Pierre Picolino

Villain: Mole Man, Subterraneans

Guest Appearance: Officer Frances Muldoon, Pierre Picolino

Marvel Milestones: Sue’s force field, Sue's power to turn other objects invisible, Subterranea

Gadgets & Technology: Invisibility Measuring Device

Synopsis: Reed is measuring Sue’s invisibility power (with a giant Inisibility Measuring Device) while Johnny is teasing Ben with his flame. Thing chases him with a fire extinguisher and when the over spray threatens to hit Sue, she instinctively creates an invisible force field around herself! Reed surmises that his nuclear measuring device must have increased her power and suggests she experiments with these new force fields. She creates shapes that withstand Thing’s attack and the Torch’s flame.

At that moment- a policeman who happens to look exactly like Car 54's Officer Frances Muldoon- comes to tell them that their passenger ICBM is in violation of city code. Reed has a permit but this is only the first complaint; Thing answers four phones and listens to his neighbors whine about the FF flares, their secret weapons, the loud exercise equipment and his scary face! Ben mashes all the phones together and walks away, frustrated at having such nosy neighbors.

Torch meanwhile is accosted by the sculptor Pierre Picolino, who wants to sue Johnny for melting his masterpiece after flying by his open window! Sue pushes Picolino out with an invisible tea tray. She has discovered another new power: turning objects and people (as she demonstrates on Thing) invisible! There is one catch...she can’t stay invisible herself if she turns others invisible.

The distractions at the Baxter Building get worse. The Women’s Canasta and Mah Jong Society show up to protest his radioactive experiments that ruin theirgames with their huge vibrations. After the Thingfrightens the fussy old ladies away, Reed decides to purchase an island off the coat of New Jersey so they can do research in peace. He just received a pamphlet advertising the propertyand they all go to investigate in the U-Car.

They reach the island to find it surrounded by a coral reef. Johnny melts a section of the reef into a causeway so they can reach the island on foot. Suddenly the U-Car is pulled underwater. The Torch flies over to investigate but is pulled in himself. It is only Reed’s stretching power, anchored by Ben, that saves him.

Suddenly they see a figure in the dark shadows above them and they chase it into a cave. They come face to face with the Mole Man! After welcoming them to his kingdom of Subterranea, he tells them that it was he who arranged all the complaints from the FF's neighbors, and it was he whosent the pamphlet to lure them to his island. As the Mole Man stands surrounded by his small, bug-eyedminions called Subterraneans, the floor opens up underneath the Fantastic Four and they fall into a net surrounded by a radioactive wall.

The Mole Man gloats from outside this prison and brings them up to date onhis activities. In their last encounter (see FF #1) they believed him destroyed with Monster Isle, but the Mole Man had already escaped through his network of tunnels. Now he’s designed giant hydraulic platforms to sink the largest cities on earth, prompting the governments into starting a nuclear war. Once they destroy each other, he can come reclaim the surface world. All he has to do is press the button on his remote control to activate his plan. But Sue covers the remote with her force field and no matter how hard the Mole Man tries, he cannot touch it. She then covers the team in a force field so they can leap over the radioactive wall.

The Mole Man is ready for them with trap doors that send each member to a different prison. The Thing falls into a vat of soft cotton - the Mole Man calls it his "Cotton Room" - and sinks like quicksand. He saves himself by yanking some pipes out of the wall and crawling into the vent. Sue is trapped in a room of illusions and is forced by the Mole Man to hunt for a hidden bomb that will go off in thirty seconds. She turns the room invisible and finds the opening on the other sideof the wall just in time. Reed is locked in airtight room filled with lethal gas. He turns himself into a ball and expands until he breaks the walls surrounding him. Johnny is trapped in a room of vents that blow ice at him. He uses one of the icicles to shatter the mechanism and then melts his way out.

Thing fights his way through the Subterraneans to the Mole Man but falls into a bottomless pit. Reed catches Thing, guided in the darkness by the sound of his voice. The Mole Man releases a lever, which drops a ten-ton boulder on Ben and Reed. At that moment, Johnny swoops in and destroys the boulder with a nova blast.

The Fantastic Four races to the U-Car as the Mole Man escapes. The Mole Man finds his remote and presses the button to activate the hydraulic lifts that will sink Earth's major cities into the ground, but only his island sinks into the earth. Reed has sabotaged his circuits to defeat him!

--synopsis by Jonathan Clarke, aka doesitmatter, with Gormuu

--letter pages and house ads provided by Crusher Creel

Issues Reprinted
Fantastic Four #21-30

Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.


FF #21

FF #22

FF #23

FF #24

FF #25

FF #26

FF #27

FF #28

FF #29

FF #30


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