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Strange Tales 129
"The Terrible Trio!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND February, 1965

Story By: STAN LEE (As If You Didn't Know!) Pencilling By: DICK AYERS (As If Anyone Cares!) Inking By: FRANKIE RAY (As If It Matters) Lettering By: ART SIMEK (As If Things Aren't Bad Enough!) Reviewing By: STEVE CHUNG
(As If Reviews Weren't Read Before!)

(Originally Reviewed On 11/29/01)

On the cover, The Thing struggles to free Johnny Storm's trapped foot from a railroad track, while a train is coming in the distance and The Terrible Trio is in the foreground, determined to frustrate his rescue!

The Thing is using the alert-o-phone to contact Johnny about Yogi Dakor and his two teammates' escape from prison!

At a golf course, Doris Evans watches Johnny as he lines up a putt, even though he loathes the game of golf! Unfortunately, the ball bounces off the lip of the cup, and when Johnny is about to lose his temper, Doris tells him to keep his cool and suggests that he tries putting with his eyes open. (Holy Matrimony, Batman! You think Johnny was glad to meet Crystal a few issues later?) He uses his flame to burn the gloating golfball, while Doris wonders what she saw in him, mentioning that a nice young man like Peter Parker wouldn't lose his temper, but Johnny overhears the alert-o-phone, and figures it must be important! Hearing that The Terrible Trio have escaped, Johnny can scarcely believe his ears, while Ben recommends that he carry the phone in his pocket, and Doris leaves in a huff over another failed date with The Torch! FLAME ON! Johnny heads off to search the city for The Terrible Trio...

Time passes and Johnny is continuing his search for The Terrible Trio: Yogi Dakor's flying carpet and his oriental tricks make him a formidable foe (Right behind Paste-Pot Pete, I'm sure), while Handsome Harry Phillips' super-sensitive hearing and a sly con-man's wits are also a dangerous threat (Holy Reggie Van Gleason, Batman!) , and the brute strength of Bull Brogin makes three in completing this triumvirate of terror! Unfortunately, Johnny's flame begins to go out, having been on for too long, and he lands near a railroad track, disappointed that he hasn't been able to find his foes, and intent on reaching The Baxter Building to give Ben a break. The Terrible Trio have seen his fall, and recall their own defeat at his hands.

Yogi Dakor sees Johnny as a young beginner, while Bull Brogin is confident that the teenager would have a chance against the three of them, and Harry Phillips tells them that victory will come through his leadership, as he has Yogi execute manuever "A", with the flying carpet aloft above an unsuspecting Johnny Storm, who is swiftly lassoed! Johnny is soon tied to a post, with The Terrible Trio drawing closer, and arguing amongst themselves over who will finish him off, and as minutes pass, Johnny manages to flame on again!

Though tied by the fireproof lasso, The Human Torch melts the signal post and begins to soar away from them, but Yogi Dakor is confident that Johnny won't easily free himself from the rope, and Harry Phillips tells Bull Brogin to grab a small section of track and twist it into a hook shape! With the strength of a dozen men granted him by Doctor Doom, Bull hooks onto the end of the rope, while Johnny regrets that his flame isn't at full strength! Now, The Terrible Trio are all clinging onto the steel hook, while Johnny seeks to drag the additional weight behind him...

Even after executing every manuever he knows, Johnny is unable to shake them off, but using the last of his strength, he manages to melt the rope, freeing himself! Handsome Harry Phillips is fearful that his flawless features will be damaged by the impact, but Bull Brogin manages to use the steel hook on a telephone pole, while Yogi Dakor has made a flying carpet of his cloak! The Torch's flame has died again, forcing him to land near The Terrible Trio! Harry Phillips is delighted to see that their quarry hasn't escaped again, while Johnny, to his dismay, finds his foot wedged in a track switch upon landing! Knowing that he's going to need some help, Johnny uses his flare gun!

Before Bull Brogin can stop him from firing the flare, Harry tells his crony not to stop him since he hears the sound of an air car in the area, no doubt The Thing is searching for his junior partner, and if all goes according to plan, they can finish off Ben Grimm by surprise, as well! Yogi Dakor is all too aware of The Thing's great strength! Harry suggests that they keep The Torch from warning his teammate, which Bull obliges by slugging him into unconsciousness, while The Thing has spotted the flare! Seeing that it came from the railroad yard, Ben flies his section of the Fantasticar in that direction! Soon, a tearful Thing sees Johnny laying unmoving on the track, and seeks to deny his eyes! Landing nearby, The Thing tries to revive his teammate, while The Terrible Trio sneak up on the concerned Ben Grimm, who doesn't hear their footsteps...

Yogi Dakor plays his flute, and from a basket emerges a giant snake, which pounces and wraps itself around The Thing, while Bull Brogin leaps towards him with two torn signal posts in each fist, and atop a railcar, Harry Phillips gives orders to take advantage of The Thing's distraction! Phillips orders Dakir to keep playing so the snake will keep The Thing immobile, so that Brogin will stand a chance of finishing him off!

With a single thrust, Bull Brogin and snake are sent flying through the air by The Thing's mighty muscles! Ben sees that Johnny's foot is caught, and intends to free it delicately, but Phillips orders his cronies to attack The Thing again, determined that Ben Grimm not have the time to save Johnny! The Thing pulls the carpet from beneath Yogi Dakir, while Bull Brogin charges him and strikes his back with a lamp post, but Brogin is sent flying back by a backhanded blow by The Thing, who doesn't even bother to look, especially since he's trying to free Johnny's foot!

Furious, Bull Brogin bellows a challenge, and pulls up some railroad track, wrapping it around The Thing, who sees an approaching train, with Johnny still on the tracks! Yogi Dakir seeks to grab hold of The Thing, but Ben is too strong, as he struggles to reach Johnny! Harry Phillips orders Yogi and Bull back, as he hears the train whistle, and wonders what The Thing is up to! With not enough time to free Johnny or himself from the path of the oncoming train...

Ben turns and braces himself, and the next moment, Yogi Dakir and Bull Brogin savors what the train will reap, as all of them close their eyes, as they each hear the screeching of brakes, then a WHOOOM!

Half an hour later, Johnny wakes up in the Fantasticar and asks Ben what happened while he was out! He sees The Terrible Trio tied together on the Fantasticar's hood, and hears how The Thing used leverage by propping up and using his legs as levers to stop the train and cause it to bounced safely off! With Johnny safe, Ben flexed his muscles and frees himself out of the tracks, while The Terrible Trio still have their eyes closed, patting each other on the back, saying that Dr. Doom would be proud of them, and intent on tackling Mr. Fantastic next! Since Johnny is still a teenager, Ben doesn't go into the specifics of how this particular "Clobberin' Time!" went, afterwards, he freed Johnny's foot, and pleased with how the day went, while Johnny asks him to drop him off at Dorrie's so he can ask her about finishing their golf game.

A most memorable cover, with The Ever-Loving Blue-Eyed Thing speechless as The Terrible Trio savor their imminent triumph!

The art by Dick Ayers is enjoyable, as you can tell the personalities of the protagonists by their faces.

The alert-o-phone sounds like something Stretcho would come up with, not to mention call his thingamajig!

Magic tricks, brute strength, and a cunning mind, which makes up the scheme of The Terrible Trio.

I don't believe that The Terrible Trio have made an appearance since this story, but I could be wrong.

Johnny's flame, at this point in Silver Age Time, had a tendency to go out at a crucial moment, in much the same way that Tony Stark's ticker was endangered each month by the shrapnel near his heart. Heroes with feet of clay, but feats which marvel and amaze.

A most memorable tale and a fun one, as Ben manages to get in some "Clobberin' Time!"

Steve Chung
"The Terrible Review!"