Bentley Wittman grew up possessing near-superhuman levels of genius and, as an adult, became an inventor of great renown, selling his futuristic inventions to the wealthy and becoming quite rich. He became known as the Wizard by legally assuming this stage name and using his advanced scientific inventions to perform feats of "magic."
Intellectually bored, however, he decided to defeat Johnny Storm, who had just appeared to the world as the Human Torch. Pretending to be a victim, he was rescued by the Torch and invited him to his high-tech, futuristic mansion on Long Island where he captured the Torch with ease. The Wizard then impersonated the Torch, launching a crime spree to destroy the Torch’s reputation, before being captured by the Fantastic Four and sent to prison.
The Wizard clashed many more times with the Human Torch until the conclusion of one encounter sent him flying uncontrollably upward by one of his anti-gravity discs, unable to descend safely. He was rescued by two other adversaries of the Torch: the Sandman and Paste-Pot Pete (soon after, the Trapster). After he suggested they team up, a suggestion by the Trapster inspired him to form a team that would be a criminal counterpart to the Fantastic Four, with himself, his two rescuers, and Medusa, who was then suffering from amnesia; becoming the Frightful Four.
The Frightful Four proved to be one of the most formidable menaces that the Fantastic Four had yet encountered. The Frightful Four raided the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building headquarters, and affixed the Wizard's anti-gravity discs to the four-minus Johnny-but with Alicia Masters, who managed to alert the Torch with the Invisible Girl's flare gun. Johnny soon appeared and forced the Wizard to use his anti-grav ship to free his team members before they floated into airless space. Then, together they beat the Frightful Four until the Wizard and the Sandman exploded the Wizard's ship as a distraction, and escaped. Later, kidnapping the Invisible Girl, they lured the Fantastic Four to a Pacific atoll where they rigged an experimental "Q-bomb" to detonate. The Fantastic Four narrowly escaped. Weeks later, the Frightful Four made their third attempt. Capturing the Thing, the Wizard used his "Id Machine" to simulate the Thing's natural tendencies toward violence and brainwash him into obeying the Wizard's commands. The Fantastic Four finally managed to subdue the Frightful Four, then all but Medusa were turned over to the authorities.
The Wizard later broke out from prison, after helping the Sandman escape, and fought the Fantastic Four on his own. He created a set of wonder gloves to enchance his powers, but the four (minus Susan) beat him and took his gloves. Next, he created more powerful ones that would mimic the powers of the four, however he was unprepared to face the elemental powers of their newest member-Susan's replacement and the sister of Medusa-the Inhuman Crystal. Using her powers, she managed to counteract his and send him fleeing away.
In his continued quest to crush the Fantastic Four, the Wizard has tried many iterations of the Frightful Four. He twice brought Medusa back into the ranks, but, as she was no longer a criminal, having since regaining her memories, she betrayed them both times. He also never succeeded in finding a permanent replacement for her. His first choice, Thundra, also ended up allying herself with the Fantastic Four as Medusa did. Others who joined the team for a time included Electro, Llyra, and the Brute (Reed Richards of the original Counter-Earth). When the Sandman appeared to give up his life of crime, the Wizard formed a new team with Hydro-Man, Klaw, and Titania. But however formidable, the Frightful Four have always been thwarted by their heroic counterparts.
Very rarely has the Wizard operated outside of the Frightful Four. Once, he formed a partnership with Mysterio, but was foiled by Spider-Man. Another time, he teamed up with the Plantman to escape prison and ran into a conflict with the Avengers. He was later broken out of prison by Loki to join the an assemblage of villains organizing acts of vengeance against the Avengers, but he was sorely defeated. Often avoiding the limelight that he once embraced, the Wizard hoped to hide from authorities using his former name Bentley Wittman. He was found by the Thunderbolts, however, who convinced the Wizard to provide anti-gravity discs in order for them to battle Graviton. Later still, when the Sandman had appeared to reform his criminal ways, the Wizard took it upon himself to subject his former ally to his id machine, re-integrating the Sandman’s mind and restoring him to villainy.
Finally, when the Fantastic Four’s popularity reached an all-time low, the Wizard decided it was time to re-form the Frightful Four once more. No longer motivated by petty jealousy, the Wizard believed the Fantastic Four to be the source of all his troubles, his fall from grace. He rescued the Trapster from the Negative Zone, boosted the powers of Hydro-Man, and called upon his ex-wife, Salamandra, to round out the Frightful Four. He also manipulated Cole, his and Salamandra’s daughter, to develop a relationship with the Human Torch in order to teleport to her and bypass the Fantastic Four’s defenses. During the resulting battle, the Wizard turned on the Trapster, revealing that he intended Cole to be the next member of the Frightful Four. When the Frightful Four defeated the heroes, the Wizard flaunted his success on television and left them humiliated. However, when the Wizard admitted that he only wanted to include Cole once he saw her exhibit superhuman powers, she turned on him. She sought out the Fantastic Four to lead them back to her father and to try to find a cure for her powers. The Wizard and Cole confronted each other, and Cole used one of the Trapster’s traps to ensnare her father, then used her powers over gravity to bring the Wizard’s lair down around him.