Driven by a desire to prove himself as Mr. Fantastic's superior, the Wizard created the Frightful Four with the ultimate intent of defeating and humiliating the Fantastic Four. The team is initially formed in Fantastic Four #36 (1965) when Sandman and Paste Pot Pete (Trapster) are jointly escaping from prison and meet the Human Torch, who defeated them. Seeking to become an exact evil counterpart to the Fantastic Four, the Wizard needs a suitable female. He says that he knows of such a woman and that they will meet again in a few weeks. At their next meeting, an anxious Paste Pot Pete asks the Wizard if he has found a female whose power can match that of Susan Storm. The Wizard tells him that the female he has been considering might be even more powerful. Hence, they recruit a fourth member, the amnesic and inhuman Medusa, and attack the Fantastic Four at Reed and Sue's engagement party. First Paste-Pot Pete and the Wizard defeat the Thing. Then the Wizard, Sandman and Paste-Pot Pete smash Mr. Fantastic, while Madam Medusa defeats the Invisible Girl. Alicia Masters also gets captured and she, along with the three defeated Fantastic Four members, have anti-gravity discs attached to them and they float up into the atmosphere toward almost certain death, in a truly magnificent suspenseful criminal plan that reminds one of the cliffhanger serials from the 1930's and 1940's. However, unknown to the Frightful Four, Alicia Masters signals the Torch before she gets captured, as she finds an unconscious Sue Storm on the floor. Johnny Storm soon comes and captures the Wizard. This allows the Fantastic Four to barely snatch victory from the Frightful Four.
Their second encounter comes two issues later in Fantastic Four #38, "Defeated by the Frightful Four". Here Medusa is primarily responsible for the abduction of the Invisible Girl and the evil FF take Susan Storm to a deserted Pacific atoll and lay her in an underground chamber next to a Q-bomb, a powerful nuclear device. The three male members of the Fantastic Four soon follow, in an attempt to rescue their captive partner. A fight allows the Frightful Four to escape, but leaves the Fantastic Four trapped on the island. While they end up surviving the blast, their powers are now gone. Hence, this is the first defeat for the Fantastic Four at the end of an issue.
The third battle between the evil FF and the Fantastic Four takes place in the first Fantastic Four trilogy storyline in Fantastic Four #41-#43. Here the Wizard uses his I.D. machine to brainwash the Thing and this causes him to join the Frightful Four. This brilliant act allows the Frightful Four to defeat the Fantastic Four for a second time at the end of an issue in FF #41. However, Mr. Fantastic and Sue escape in FF #42 with the Thing and Mr. Fantastic breaks the Wizard's hold on Ben Grimm in FF #43 and this allows the Fantastic Four to eventually defeat their counterparts. The end of FF #43 has Medusa escaping, but her three male partners are arrested.
Though Sandman and the Wizard have solo battles against the FF over the next few years, the Frightful Four do not fight the Fantastic Four as a unit Fantastic Four #94. The three male members of the Frightful Four ambush the Fantastic Four and defeat them, along with the traitorous Madam Medusa. This happens at the mansion of the witch, Agatha Harkness. Unfortunately for the Frightful Four, Agatha Harkness and her black cat, Ebony, come to the rescue of the fallen Fantastic Four and easily defeat the Frightful Four (really Frightful Three at this point).
By the time the Frightful Four decide to make another attempt at destroying the Fantastic Four, Medusa is no longer a viable as she has completely reformed. As a replacement, the Wizard recruits Thundra in Fantastic Four #129-#130. Yet again the Frightful Four temporarily defeat the Fantastic Four. However, before they can secure a permanent victory and finish the FF off, toddler Franklin Richards uses his powers for the first time, as he wakes up the Thing. A big fight soon follows and the Frightful Four lose yet again. As for Thundra, she proves to have no loyalty for this team as she eventually becomes attracted to the Thing and opposes the Frightful Four.
A rather weak Frightful Four story occurs in Fantastic Four #148, but a much better one develops in issue #177. Here the three male members of the Frightful Four defeat the Fantastic Four. Wizard then creates traps for the Fantastic Four members and each trap is designed to specifically negate his/her power. Wizard announces that he wants the Fantastic Four to remain alive, so they can watch the tryouts for a new fourth member of the Frightful Four.
They continue to plague the Fantastic Four, with different assortments of villains every time.
The Frightful Four was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Following the defeat of the original team, the Wizard reforms the Frightful Four. Medusa soon deserts them after regaining her memories leaving the Wizard to make several attempts to create a fourth member for the Team. This lead to the recruitment of: Blastaar, using a mind-controlled Spider-Man, Thundra, the Brute (an alternate Reed Richards from Counter-Earth), and then Electro when Spider-man had become a member of the Fantastic Four for a brief time and then later, Llyra, who took over the group and forced them to attack the Sub-Mariner for her.
After the Sandman is merged with fellow Spider-Man rogue, Hydro-man, his mind starts to take on a more heroic theme and he joins Silver Sable's Wild Pack and turns his back on the Wizard. The Wizard decides to form an all-new group with the Constrictor, Deadpool, and the Taskmaster, but they are bested easily by the Thing and Franklin Richards. Wizard next teams with the Trapster, the Man-Bull, and Dreadknight, and they try to make off with money from a rodeo, but they are defeated by the Turbine, Spider-Man, and the Rangers on a test run in Canada. Following this huge defeat, the Wizard disbands the Frightful Four for a long time, but following the return of the Fantastic Four from Counter-Earth, he reforms the Frightful Four using the Trapster, The Punisher robot and the She-Thing (failing to recruit the Sandman who the Wizard and used his mind devices to turn back to his criminals way) and attacks Wyatt Wingfoot's Keewazi reservation. When the heroic Fantastic Four seem to be led by Dr. Doom (actually Reed trapped in Doom's armor), Wizard surrenders rather than risk Doom's wrath.
The Wizard's next team is a dysfunctional echo of the Fantastic Four's family structure; including the Wizard's half-dragon, ex-wife Salamandra, and their mass-shifting daughter Cole; as well as Hydro-Man and the Trapster. Wanting to humble the Fantastic Four on equal terms, the Wizard "traps" the Trapster into a time-loop after he threatens Cole, reducing his team's ranks from five to four. With the rebellious Cole's aid, the Fantastic Four invade the Wizard's underground headquarters and defeat the Frightful Four, though the team escapes and remains at large.
The Frightful Four reappears in Fantastic Four #547 with Wizard, Hydro-Man, and Trapster, being joined by Titania as their female member, and they capture the Invisible Woman on Saturn's moon of Titan. This becomes the third time in the Frightful Four's history that they have made a captive of Susan Storm. (The other two being Fantastic Four #38 in May 1965 and FF:The World's Greatest Comic Magazine #9.), Wizard plants a listening device on Mister Fantastic's FTL (his latest spaceship) and a bomb. The Fantastic Four watch from Earth, as Wizard goads Mr. Fantastic by saying "I'm about to kill your wife! Come and get me, if you can". As they attempt to rocket to her aid in the FTL, the bomb explodes, leaving one of the best Fantastic Four cliffhanger endings ever at the end of issue #547. The next issue, Fantastic Four #548, shows Wizard beating a helpless Invisible Woman quite badly, as Wizard has created a trap which nullifies the blonde girl's powers. Wizard tries to force Susan Storm to admit that Wizard is superior to Mr. Fantastic, but she refuses to acknowledge such. Titania insists that they should kill Susan Storm, but the Wizard disagrees with her. By the end of #548, Wizard recreates Klaw to form his version of the Frightful Five to battle the Thing, Human Torch, Storm and Black Panther who had replaced Reed and Susan on the team for a time. It turns out though that the bomb aboard the Mr. Fantastic's ship is contained by the Invisible Woman. She is freed in issue #549 and then attacks the Wizard within an inch of his life as he asks for mercy.
The Wizard rejoins the Intellgencia and decides to rebuild his Frightful Four in Hulk #19 (2010), but this time recruits Klaw and the Trapster (who has freed himself at this point) and the Savage She-Hulk to infiltrate the Baxter Building and kidnap Reed Richards. Savage She-Hulk and Trapster keep the Human Torch and the Thing occupied. Klaw brilliantly defeats the Invisible Woman by imitating the sounds of her children being in danger and Wizard smashes Mr. Fantastic like he never has done before. Wizard wraps Reed Richards' body six times around the Baxter Building, until Mr. Fantastic apparently loses control of his bodily functions. Wizard then flees with the defeated Mr. Fantastic. However, his team is later defeated by both Bruce Banner and the Red Hulk. The Wizard eventually escapes, but is captured by both She-Hulks, before he is freed by the Future Foundation to fight in the War of the Four Cities. Following the end of the war, the Wizard returns to the Intellgencia and brings back the Trapster and Klaw, but does not know that Klaw is really the Chameleon in disguise as part of Dr. Octopus master plan. The Wizard is currently trying to find a replacement for both Klaw and his female member.
World War Hulks
On Earth-2149 the original Fantastic Four were turned into zombies. They became known as the Frightful Four in Earth-1610 - the Ultimate universe.
In this reality the members were: Wizard, Blastaar, Quicksand and the Hooded Haunt.
The Frightful Four appeared in the mid 1990's Fantastic Four Animated Series. The team consisted of Wizard, Medusa, Trapster and Hydro-Man.
The Frightful Four appeared in Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes. The team consisted of Klaw, Wizard, Trapster and Dragon Man.
The Frightful Four appeared in Ultimate Spider-Man, with a line-up consisting of Klaw, Thundra, Trapster and Wizard. They were hired by Doctor Octopus to capture Spider-Man, but were defeated when Power Man, White Tiger, Nova and Iron Fist joined in to assist the hero.