I first beheld the malevolence of Ivan Kragoff and his "indescribable" Super-Apes on the old Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four cartoon show. Later I was able to read their second comic book apperance in a Marvel Collector's Item Classics reprint of Fantastic Four #29. It would be many years before I was able to catch a reprint of the Red Ghost's debut in Fantstic our #13, a masterly tale written by Stan Lee and drawn by the Silver Age Super-Team of Jack "King" Kirby and "Sturdy" Steve Ditko.
The Red Ghost and his gang of Apes were just the right blend of creepy and bizarre, a modern spin on Poe's classic "Murders in the Rue Morgue" but with Commies and cosmic radiation and the nation's obsession to reach the Lunar landscape.
The Red Ghost and his anthropoid allies didn't rate much cover attention in either of their two early FF appearances, though both covers are pretty nicely dramatic. The Ghost and his minions were the closest the FF ever came to confronting the "Red Menace" which loomed so large in the early 60's.
Later with Commies becoming less a relevant part of the national texture, the Red Ghost parts with his original trio of Super-Apes, find a new duo and some new powers to boot. In the pages of Iron Man he changes up his ability to become intangible and instead becomes all misty. I frankly thought the attempt to juice him up was a fumble and his hip new duds were downright creepy. An old guy sporting that medallion put me in mind of scary old dudes like Timothy Leary and such like, oldsters trying to stay hip at painful costs.
Thankfully the look didn't last long in Marvel time. But it did linger long enough for the Red Ghost to be part of the smackingly awesome Avengers-Defenders Clash!
The Red Ghost is one of those Marvel baddies who gets lost in the shuffle, but who I really remember with the appropriate blend of proper villainous disdain and nostalgic warmth.