The Yancy Street Gang are a bunch of guys from Ben Grimm's old neighborhood with strong ties to the Thing. The gang is sometimes portrayed as adolescents, sometimes young men, or, as is the case in this story, blue-collar workers. The exact nature of the relationship between Ben and the Gang can be described as "grudging camaraderie"; they love the Thing but they play endless pranks on him. He cares for them yet he complains about them unceasingly.
As this tale starts, the Gang is being intimidated by another gang - a gang of thugs. In this instance for trying to send Mr. Grimm his traditional present.
Why a present you ask? Well it happens to be Ben's birthday. In the Baxter Building there is a little all-in-the-family celebration including the usual Thing-Torch high jinks. I like this panel best.
Too bad for the cake but this shows the Thing's prodigious lung capacity. Amply demonstrated in past stories were Ben is able to hold his breath underwater for unusually long periods. Not exaclty a Superman level hurricane, so super-villians need not worry, but that cake did fly off.
Ben does receive the message from the Yancy Street Gang and it's enough to bring him back to his old neighborhood. And look at the transport that he's bringing.
A jet cycle. Feast your eyes while you can because this vehicle will not survive the story.
From the moment the Thing alights in Yancy Street he is being attacked by the street. Not the people on the street but the street itself. Objects seemingly coming to life like these fire hydrants, for example.
Soon enough Ben is assailed by metalloid robots.
Robots with enough electrical energy to knock the Thing unconscious.
And here, near the end of the issue, is where the storyline starts going downhill. No, its worst than that - it falls off a cliff.
The mastermind of the whole attack is the descriptively named Machinesmith.
Promising. So I'm wondering why we never see him again in any future Marvel stories. It turns out the Machinesmith will only outlast Ben's jet cycle by a bit.
Going back to the story, Machinesmith coerces the mob to force the Yancy Street Gang to create the robots that attacked the Thing. Wha? My suspension of disbelief just went out the window. The Yancy Street Gang, by any stretch of the imagination, cannot possibly design robots that could give S.H.I.E.L.D. LMDs a run for their money. Let alone robots that could take on the cosmic-energy powered Thing.
What should've been done for this story was that the Machinesmith designed the robots and used the Gang as bait to lure the Thing. Oh well.
So why does Machinesmith need the Thing? It turns out because they needed him to kidnap Jack of Hearts.