Something like a weekend after moving in the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four ran afoul of a previously unknown alien race, as is their custom. Reed Richards can't make a s'more without having a subatomic universe attack him from within the crystalline sugar matrix of his marshmallow on a stick. It's just how the man rolls. This time around, the FF faced the shapeshifting menace of the Skrulls.
After the alien sons of bitches impersonated our heroes for a few pages, Reed Richards hops aboard their rocketship (cleverly disguised as Ubiquitous Comic Book Background Element #24, The Building-Top Water Tower) and convinces the head Skrull that earth is thoroughly uninvadeable by showing him panels from Strange Tales and Journey Into Mystery. That Stan Lee, what a scamp.
Of course, this leaves three Skrulls planetside in the custody of a stretchy mad scientist. Which is almost certainly the last place I'd want to be.
Since the only law Reed obeys is that of the Comics Code Authority, he couldn't just kill the aliens. No, things would have to be much, much more insane.
Reed Richards is an expert in many, many fields. He's an almost archetypal Comic Book Scientist - any baffling science-related thing is right in his wheelhouse. Except difficult childbirths. For those, he calls in a atomic scientist with robot arms and Roy Orbison specs. I mean, obviously. Anyway, not only can Reed build doorways into Negative Zones, handcraft flying cars shaped like bathtubs and utterly fail to cure Ben Grimm's Thingism, he's also an accomplished hypnotist.
He quadruple-minored at State University, see. While Vic Doom dicked around in Exploding Chemicals 224, Reed took on a more varied courseload, including two semesters of the Charlatan Sciences. He's eminently qualified to both host and debunk a séance.
His skills in mesmerism, coupled with the fact that he was dealing with particularly cowardly, self-hating Skrulls, allowed him to do the craziest thing he'd done since... well, the prior issue, when he turned his best friend, his girlfriend and her brother into affronts to God in an effort to beat the Reds to the moon. The Cincinnati Reds, yet.
(By the way, if Skrulls can shapeshift, why do they insist on looking like that? I wouldn't want my chin to look like it was made out of a bunch of tiny asses in a row.)Take that, Skrulls!
What happens next is, I'm pretty sure, impossible in light of Roy Thomas' brave efforts to keep Marvel's then-nascent continuity straight during the Kree-Skrull War, but roll with it.
Sure, cows are content, Reed, but it's not like they get to live to a ripe old age in a retirement home. No, they're generally killed and eaten.
Seriously, way to think stuff through, Stretch. It's kind of emblematic of Reed Richard's scientific method on the whole, isn't it? A whole bunch of "it seemed like a good idea... until Blastaar jumped through the dimensional gate. Thank God I've got the Thing here to punch him in the face!"
Hell, Hank Pym may have created Ultron, but at least Ultron wasn't his freakin' roommate beforehand.
Now, being hypnotized into shapeshifting into a cow until the point you get to graduate Bovine University ("Don't let the name throw you, Jimmy. It's not really a floor, it's more of a steel grating that allows material to sluice through so it can be collected and exported") is a pretty Ridiculous Way to Die, but this one gets kicked up another notch thanks to Grant Morrison and Mark Millar being total crazypantses.
The central premise of the five issues of Skrull Kill Krew is that the three Skrulls Reed Richards condemned to cowdom were slaughtered and ground into hamburger. These Skrullburgers would either kill those that ate them outright or give them Skrull-type superpowers. Of course, there's a downside:Yeah, so Skrull DNA acts as a virus, giving people superpowers, but also slowly eating away at the brain, first giving the victim seizures, headaches and a general bad attitude, and then killing them to death.
And dying thanks to a brain virus created by ingesting Skrull DNA found in hamburgers made out of three alien invaders hypnotized by Mister Fantastic so as to take on cow form? Is a truly Ridiculous Way to Die.