Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "the-thing"

Book Review: Essential Marvel Two-In-One, Volume 1

Essential Marvel Two-in-One, Vol. 1 Essential Marvel Two-in-One, Vol. 1 by Len Wein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When the Fantastic Four was born, it was thought that if any character would break away for a solo career, it'd be the young and handsome Johnny Storm. Yet, the public had other ideas, it was the human brick monster the Thing who sold the most toys and starred in three Comic book series as well as a limited edition run "Freak Show."

This book marks the start of the Thing's first series, Marvel Two-In-One, like the all ready existing Marvel Team Up series starring Spider-man, each issue featured a team up between the Thing and another Marvel character.

This book collects Marvel Feature 11-12, Marvel Two-in-one #1-#20 and #22-25, Annual #1, Marvel Team Up #47, and Fantastic Four Annual #11: nearly 600 pages of Comic book action.

The try out for the the concept was in Marvel Feature #11 and #12. For the first audition, Marvel led off with the fan favorite fan match up: The Thing and the Hulk. After a pre-requisite fight, they teamed up to fight bad guys who had manipulated them into fighting so they could wager on the fate of the world. This was followed by a team up with Iron Man in Marvel Feature #12.

With the success of these two issue, old Ben Grimm was set for success in Marvel Two in One. It would begin as a bi-monthly series and continue that way until Marvel Two in One #15, when it’d become a monthly.

There are many writers on the series. Steve Gerber wrote issues 1-9, Chris Claremont wrote issue #10, Bill Manlo scripted #11 and 12, 14-19, 22-24 as well as Marvel Two in One #47 with assists from Roy Thomas and Jim Shooter on a few issues. Thomas wrote issue #20 as well as the Annual. And #13 was written by Len Wein and Issue 25 by Marv Wolfman. A lot of cooks stirring this pot and that’s before we start to list all the artists.

In addition, comic book stories were getting shorter. Gone were the 23-page stories in early Fantastic Four magazines. Most of the stories in this book are told in 18 pages and the last few in 17. This can lead to rushed stories.

That said, the book has some pretty good stories. The best are the fist nine written by Stephen Gerber who does a good job capturing the wonderful character of the Thing including his compassion. He begins Issue #1 heading Florida to fight Man-thing for stealing his name but upon learning the poor man-turned-into beast’s story, he has a more compassionate reaction. He also takes to carrying for the overgrown alien child Wundaar as a foster parent of sorts for several issues. His compassion is further shown in comforting Valkryie who questions whether she’s in even real after the end of Issue 7. Grimm responds, “Paper dolls don’t cry. Only us real people got that problem.”

The rest of the stories manage to capture Grimm’s can do determination and indomitable courage. One of the best examples of that is the Two Part team up with Thor in #22 and #23 that has Ben Grimm battling Seth.

Some critics knock the book for having the Thing team up with D-listers, but really he has a pretty solid list of partners including: Submariner, Daredevil, Iron Man (twice), Thor (three times), Captain America (twice), Doctor Strange, and Spider-man. And not every story with a lesser known character was a bad one. My favorite stories in the book:

1) Issues 4 and 5: Captain America and the Thing travel to the time of the Guardians of the Galaxy and team up with them to fight for freedom.

2) Issues 6 and 7: A surprisingly moving story about a magic harmonica and two people haunted by a painful memory with Doctor Strange.

3) Issue 10: This Chris Claemont tale with Black Widow is wonderful. The two really wonderfully together to save the world from one of Black Widow’s old cohorts.

4) Issue 13: Team up with Power Man to fight a dangerous monster.

5) Issue 17 and Marvel Team up #47: Spidey and the Thing battle Basilisk Just a great story.

6) Issue 22 and 23: With Thor battling Seth with all humanity at stake.

7) Issue 24: Black Goliath-Never heard of this character but it was nice to run into him in an overall somewhat generic story.

8) Issue 25: A team up with Iron Fist as they’re brought into a troubled country

On the negative side, some comics I didn’t like:

1) Issue 3: A real head-scratcher. Daredevil appears in a story that seems to barely forward a continuing story going on in Daredevil and the rest of the story finishes up in Daredevil. Kind of pointless really.
2) Issue 11: Battle with Golem, a pointless story that wraps up a previous story no one cared about in the first place. Also, violated an established precedent. Ben Grimm has been shown to be a celebrity superhero yet when he boards a train to Florida, everyone switches sides of the train. Some, I could see. Everyone, not really. It seems to be an attempt to make the Thing relatable and to show solidarity with people being picked on for being different. That should be done in a way that’s not totally nonsensical.
3) Issue #18 with the Scarecrow, the continuation of yet another horror story the Thing doesn’t belong in and nobody cared about in the first place.

While it was an okay story, the biggest disappointment was the Liberty Legion Story in Annual #1 and Issue #20 by Roy Thomas. After the entire FF went back to help the Invaders in the superb Fantastic Four Annual #11, the Thing goes back to finish the job and teams up with the Liberty Legion. The story has potential, but it also highlights the challenge of the Liberty Legion: we don’t know anything about most of them so we have to spend a lot of time establishing who they are. Thus the Annual dragged on and on in an interminable story. Fewer character, at least in this story, might have made Ben Grimm’s time travelling adventures a lot more fun.

As an aside, Issue 21 is not in this collection as it teamed Ben up with Doc Savage and those rights are no longer held by Marvel. I bought this issue online for a pretty inexpensive price. The Doc Savage Issue had great art and was a fun story that true fans of Doc or the Thing should get their hands on, but it’s not really necessary to get it to understand the book.

Overall, not a perfect book, but if you want some great Bronze Age stories of the Thing filled with splash pages of him shouting, “It’s clobberin’ time,” than this is a worthwhile read.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on February 01, 2014 19:56 Tags: bronze-age, marvel, the-thing

Book Review: Essential Marvel Two-in-One, Volume 2

Essential Marvel Two-in-One, Vol. 2 Essential Marvel Two-in-One, Vol. 2 by Marv Wolfman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's Clobberin' time in this massive collection of Ben Grimm comic stories from the late 1970s, featuring Issues 26-52 and Annuals #2 and #3. A summary of each issue:

Issues 26 and 27: Nick Fury warns the Thing that Mentallo and the Fixer are going to kidnap him and the two succeed in doing so in a plan where kidnapping Ben leads to attempting to assassinate Jimmy Carter and that's not even their main goal. Issue #27 is essentially a Fantastic Four comic rather than a Thing comic.

Issue 28: The Thing's en route to London and gets drawn into an undersea battle with Pirahnna, fighting along the Sub-mariner.

Issues 29-33: The Thing in London to find a scientist to help Deathlok. Key stories in establishing Spider-woman (Jessica Drew) as a hero. Pretty well-done and shows Ben's concern for Alicia Masters.

Issue 34: One last London comic as Ben teams up with Nighthawk after an apparently monstrous alien is freed from a rock. The alien is not as monstrous as he looks, but tell mankind that. A classic Sci-Fi story.

Issues 35 and 36: As often happens in these stories, the Thing is cleaning up an old plot line. In this case, he goes into the Bermuda Triangle to deal with an anomaly and gets dragged back in time to another dimension and meets Skull the Slayer (from a discontinued Marvel Comic series) and they have to get home. The Thing battles dinosaurs and the comic is a lot of fun.

Annual #2: Spider-man is summoned in a dream by Moondragon to help the Avengers who are being imprisoned by Thanos and Spidey turns to the Thing because he needs a spaceship and that's the sort of thing Reed Richards leaves lying around. Good story, even though it feels more like a Spider-man story than a Thing story.

Issues 37-39: The FF was dissolved and the Thing finds himself going on rampages that destroy property and is thrown in jail. His attorney Matt Murdoch (aka Daredevil) suspects something's wrong when he hears a noise around the Thing. A supervillain is behind it and it takes a couple more guest stars to straighten things out.

Issues 40 and 41: Prominent black citizens are being kidnapped. A so-so story featuring Black Panther and Doctor Voodoo.

Issues 42 and 43: Ben follows up on his ex-ward Wundar, who's being studied as part of Project Pegasus. He fights with and teams up with Captain America. The story features a no-name villain and the second story features Man-Thing and ends how most Man-Thing stories do.

Annual #3: Monitors come to Earth to "judge" it and they find every planet imperfect. It's up to the Thing and Nova to save the day.

Issue 44: The Thing tells kids of his team up with Hercules to figght in Mount Olympus. A little ambiguity if it's true (or Ben's trying to impress the kids), but still fun.

Issue 45: The story begins with the Thing shot up by a '20s gangster which annoys him. Convoluted story featuring Skrulls and Captain Marvel.

Issue 46: Meta story where the Thing is jealous of the Hulk's TV show and goes to Hollywood to get his own show and ends up facing off against the Hulk who hates the show.

Issues 47 and 48: Team up with the Yancy Street Gang (really?) but they're all overcome by the Machinesmith and it's up to that new hero, the Jack of Hearts, to save the day. Yeah, I don't know anything about him either.

Issue 49: Writer Mary Jo Duffy puts Ben in the middle of a Dark Shows homage. A good idea for a story guest starring Doctor Strange.

Issue 50: Writer/Artist John Byrne features a story where the Thing goes back in time to cure his past self of being the Thing. Ludicrous plot, nice look at how the character changed from Fantastic Four #1.

Issue 51: Ben and Nick Fury head for a poker game at the Avengers Mansion for a poker game with Wonder Man and Miss Marvel. Some great art by Frank Miller on the game and some smack talk from Ben Grimm. Villains show up and our fought but that's secondary to establishing this poker game exists.

Issue 52: A man is killed right in front of the Thing and Ben insists he doesn't need the help of "Johnny come lately" hero Moon Knight. He gets it anyway. Features one of the best villains in the book.

Overall, a solid book despite some weaker issues. The book has a lot of fun stories even though few of the co-stars are Marvel A-listers, Ben manages to save the world a few times while rapping up a few stray storylines, and getting brainwashed three times. Good Bronze Age fun.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on November 27, 2018 23:02 Tags: marvel, marvel-two-in-one, the-thing

Book Review: Thing Classic Vol. 1

Thing Classic Vol. 1 (The Thing (1983-1986)) Thing Classic Vol. 1 (The Thing by John Byrne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Taking place right after Marvel Two-in-One ended, the Thing got a Comic where he wasn't required to have a guest character. The book was written by John Byrne and went in a very introspective perspective with Ben Grimm, which was always a huge part of the character.

On one hand, the book has some interesting explorations such as when Ben's about to meet an old flame who's not seen him since he got hit by cosmic rays, but also the book can be a bit of a bummer. However, there are some highlights, including the Thing crossing over with the Inhumans to prevent Quicksilver from exposing their baby to harmful energies. The book also has the hilarious Assistant Editor's month issue. All this is helped by the fact that Byrne doesn't draw book. Ron Wilson does a fantastic job and captures Ben how Kirby drew him.

Overall, a solid if somewhat melancholy volume.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on June 24, 2019 22:47 Tags: marvel-comics, the-thing

The Thing Classic, Volume 2

Thing Classic Vol. 2 (The Thing (1983-1986)) Thing Classic Vol. 2 (The Thing by John Byrne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben Grimm is the last being on Battleworld as the heroes have departed except for him as he has the power to be Ben or the Thing. However, he founds the world inhabited and very much in need of a hero and it gets one in a comic odyssey, the writers call, "Rocky Grimm Space Rager."

These are swashbuckling Buck rogers style stories of Ben Grimm exploring this strange world along with a mysterious woman and facing a mysterious antagonist. It's fun reading, certainly moreso than the angst-ridden first volume.

This volume was being published at the same time as Secret Wars and had to avoid spoilers for that and also Grimm couldn't leave the world until the end of Secret Wars. The book also does feature a Fantastic Four crossover that's disappointing for most readers. For those reading Fantastic Four, the book gave a few updates on the FF, but took the majority of its time focusing on Ben and was a tease to get people to by the Thing book. For those readers of the Thing, it meant going out and buying another comic to get details on how a storyline ended.

Still, if you can get past such gimmics, this is a fun read.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on December 15, 2019 00:29 Tags: secret-wars, the-thing

Book Review: The Thing: Freakshow

The Thing: Freakshow (The Thing: Freakshow (2002)) The Thing: Freakshow (The Thing: Freakshow by Geoff Johns

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Geoff Johns has written some great comics. This isn't one of them. He doesn't get the Thing as a character and his attempt to retcon in this circus freakshow doesn't work. When combined with bad art work, this book is eminently skippable.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on May 05, 2020 23:46 Tags: freakshow, geoff-johns, the-thing

Book Review: Thing: Idol of Millions

Thing: Idol of Millions (The Thing (2005-2006)) Thing: Idol of Millions (The Thing by Dan Slott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Thing: Idol of Millions collects Dan Slott's Thing Eight-Issue Solo Series. Ben Grimm is now a Billionaire and trying to live the high life as the Thing. The book has a lot of guest stars including Iron Man and Spider-man, the Inhumans, and more.

This book is mostly inoffensive. There are some funny bits, a few sweet moments that showcase Ben Grimm's character, and a few times of him saying, "It's clobberin', time." Unlike Geoff Johns' Freakshow, I felt like Slott actually got the character to some extent.

However, the book is also just unremarkable. It starts out with a three issue story involving a kidnapping and a murder-themed park, includes a few issues of him working off a debt at a pawnshop because the broker won't take his check now that he's filthy rich, and him building a community center, some supervillain fights, and him deciding he needs to win back Alicia by taking her back in time to visit the statue of Venus DeMilo when it was still new. The books ends with an eighth issue which indicated that Slott had more planned for the book, but was forced to draw it short with Civil War coming up. It felt like there was four-issues worth of story condensed into one and Ben's character arc with Alicia drawn to a close in a way that makes little sense with what happened in Issue 7. Slott continues a practice of many Marvel writers in the mid-2000s: forcing a character to the destination you have planned for him or her even if you've not actually been able to provide all of the steps that would make it feel merited.

To be fair, John Byrne did do a lot of random single and double stories with Ben Grimm during the first Thing series during the Eighties. However, in the case of Byrne, he told far more interesting and engaging stories (even if he could be a bit of a downer.) At the end of the day, Slott just doesn't seem to have anything interesting to say about Ben Grimm.

This isn't bad, but it's more mediocre and frustrating for the potential it has but never realizes.

View all my reviews
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on June 12, 2020 23:00 Tags: dan-slott, the-thing

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
Follow Adam Graham's blog with rss.