Allow me to introduce to you the incredible supervillain Paste-Pot Pete! That’s right, he’s the only villain who chooses as his weapon of choice, a pot of paste and a paste gun that shoots out… paste.
Eventually this guy will become known as “The Trapster” but he starts his criminal career with paste. These kinds of stories are why I love Marvel. They have some of the strangest ideas and somehow a lot of them seem to work. In fact, Paste-Pot Pete actually comes fairly close to defeating The Human Torch on his first time out.
One thing you have to say for Paste-Pot Pete is he’s got a lot of flare. Our story starts in Glenville where Johnny Storm is going to school. He’s at the bank and very nearly writes The Human Torch on his deposit slip thus giving away his secret identity. As far as the Fantastic Four goes the idea of secret identities is kind of nebulous. Everyone pretty much knows where they live and that they were four space explorers who got their powers from cosmic rays. Even before the days of Google it wouldn’t have been that hard to put two and two together.
Leaving that aside, in comes Paste-Pot Pete who proudly announces “Meet Paste-Pot Pete… master criminal!” It’s quite an entrance even if you could argue shouting you’re a master criminal is not something a master criminal would do. Then he goes to town on the bankers and security guards. He’s gluing people to walls, gluing guns to guards hips, and rocking an amazing purple bow tie and beret paired with a green suit. It looks like he took some fashion tips from a combination of The Joker and an art student dropout.
Johnny is in the bank but he can’t just burst into flame without giving away who he is. So instead he sends a flame copy of himself to follow the crook. Pete races on out of there, gluing feet to the street as he goes. He even glues a group of police into their own cars so they can’t run out and get him.
Johnny is finally able to flame on and catch up to Pete but not before Pete has broken into a nearby missile base and defeated several armed and trained soldiers by shooting paste at them.
Pete’s there to grab the latest missile and sell it to the highest bidder. He literally captures the missile by shooting it with paste as soon as it is fired. I don’t know what his glue is made of but he mentions that it is super strong and will only last for an hour. Does that remind anyone else of a certain teenager who uses web fluid to swing around?
Pete does get a great line in at the missile base when he flees with the missile saying, “And anyone who tries to stop me will get a taste of paste!”
Of course, Johnny inevitably catches up to the crook. He first tries to shoot flame arrows at the tires of Pete’s truck but Pete’s reflexes are too good and he maneuvers out of the way.
Johnny’s next idea is to burn a ditch in front of the truck but again Pete is too fast for The Human Torch. This time Pete glues some nearby lumber and uses it as planks to get across. For Pete’s first time out, he’s doing really well. He has escaped one of the Fantastic Four three times already which is no easy feat. Johnny is about to just melt the truck as much as he can when he runs out of flame. As that happens, Pete glues Johnny to the missile he’s carting around.
Unfortunately for Pete his glue gets into the housing of the missile and triggers it to fire. Just when it looks like it’s curtains for Johnny he realizes the intense heat of the missile is enough to give him his flame back. He carefully cuts himself out of the glue by flaming on a single finger. Luckily the missile drops into the ocean so no one is harmed. (Although I suppose if Namor hears about it he’s not going to be happy)
Torch catches back up to Pete and this time does melt the truck. Pete gets out alive but Johnny is smart enough to target Paste-Pot Pete’s paste pot. (Try saying that five times fast) Pete is not out of tricks though. There is still paste in his paste gun even when he doesn’t have his pot. He fires glue at a passing airplane and hitches a ride.
While Johnny does recover all the stolen goods, Paste-Pot Pete manages to escape and rendezvous at a boat waiting for him in the ocean. And thus, Paste-Pot Pete enters the annals of Marvel history being one of the few villains who can actually get away from The Human Torch.
Believe it or not, Pete’s character in the future does get to be a lot more complex and interesting. This is a guy who knows how to plan and to be patient which gives him an advantage over other criminals.
I just love that there are characters like Pete in comic books. I would love to see this dude show up and just take on an Avenger or two in the MCU sometime. But until then, we’ll just have to wonder if Paste-Pot Pete is gone for good. (He’s not)
Next up on the reading list we’ll be checking up on Johnny and the rest of the first family of super heroes with Fantastic Four #10!