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Looking Through the Longbox – The Thing’s first solo

This week’s column focuses on the first solo series of one of Marvel’s greatest characters and the

rockiest, orangiest member of the Fantastic Four.

John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run is deservedly legendary and one of the most perfect handling’s of Marvel’s first family. Not only was Byrne a master of the big cosmic thrills that the FF are and should be known for, but he also had a way with the quiet, character building moments that, along with Stan Lee himself, have defined the way these characters have been written, read and enjoyed. So when the the everlovin’ idol of millions received his own solo series from the ashes of the previous Marvel Two in One, (a series that proved the Thing can be teamed up with anybody and still shine) the first handful of issues balanced some intense action with depth, background layers and the pitch perfect character voice Byrne achieved.

I’ll focus my brief attention on the first three issues right now, written by John Byrne with excellent art by Ron Wilson. Byrne later would detail Ben’s adventures on the Secret Wars world, and then Ben return to Earth, his time away from the FF after Johnny and Alicia hooked up. Mike Carlin would fill in as writer and take over near the end.

Issue 1:

We get some history on Ben’s early life as talks with some kids in the Yancy street gang about his time in the gang, and what the price of gang life can have. from youth up until a certain ride on a rocket, we get a snapshot of Ben before he got Thingie with it.

Issue 2:

Ben visits Alicia in the hospital as she recovers from wounds suffered when Annihilus attacked. His college girlfriend is coming for a visit…who has never seen him as the Thing. Ben’s reminiscing means we go back to his college career: love, football heartbreak. And a surprising turn of events awaits his reunion with his one time love.

Issue 3:

Crystal, Inhuman and wife of Quicksilver, comes to Ben seeking help. Her daughter–of mutant and Inhuman genes–was born human, a fact that’s inexcusable to her mutant husband. Ever wanted to see Black Bolt versus Thing? See it here. The final pages (a thread topic in the comic relief forum) have been tampered with over time, but when initially written, they were quite powerful.

The entire series is enjoyable. It drags a bit near the end as Thing gets wrapped up with the Ultimate Fighting Class wrestling League, but it’s still the Thing, and the Thing is entertaining when done well, and he’s done perfectly here. Go forth and read if you haven’t already. It does a body good.

3 thoughts on “Looking Through the Longbox – The Thing’s first solo

  1. It’s nice to be reminded of a time when comics were this straightforward. Byrne always did write a great Ben Grimm and these issues are well worth the read {or re-read, if you grew up with ’em like I did}. Cool article.

  2. Yep, the art inside’s great also. He’s got a very Byrne feel to his art and layouts.

  3. You’re gonna put me in the poor house with these. Ron Wilson’s art looks fabulous in these covers. He’s not a name I’m familiar with. Are the interiors of similar high quality?

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