The Thing #1

[17 January 2006]

By William Gatevackes

Marvel is going through an “I Love the ‘70s” mode. Characters that were created and/or came to prominence in that decade have become an active part of the Marvel line-up. Luke Cage and Iron Fist each had mini-series’ in their name. Cage recently appeared in the defunct book Alias and is currently appearing in The New Avengers each month. He is joined there by another ‘70s creation, Spider-Woman, who is also in line for a new series herself. Series are also planned for ‘70s icons such as Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight, and She-Hulk, a character who barely made it in under the decade, has a new ongoing series. Even comics from the ‘70s, such as Marvel Team-Up, are getting a new lease on life in the Zeroes.

While the character of the Thing was not created in the ‘70s (his first appearance was in 1961’s Fantastic Four#1) he gained an increased popularity in the decade. He was the star of Marvel Two-In-One, a team up book which started in 1973 and lasted for 100 issues before being replaced by a solo book, called The Thing, which ran for another 36 issues.

Well, the ever-loving, blue-eyed Thing is back in a brand new solo book. The first half of the first issue serves as primarily a set up to inform readers of the Thing’s new status quo. As revealed in the most recent issues of The Fantastic Four, Ben Grimm is now a multi-millionaire. He is using this new found wealth to date a famous actress, rent penthouse apartments and also, inadvertently, alienate his long-time friends.

In the second half, we join Ben at a party in the Hamptons in his honor, a party that is ruined due to the efforts of a socialite who was left off the guest list, a woman by the name of Milan Ramada (Her first name is a European city, her last name is a hotel chain. Hmm… I wonder if she was based on anybody in real life?). The partygoers are attacked and wake up on the private island of the assassin Arcade.

The plot isn’t the most complex, and Dan Slott’s writing is lacking much of the humor that makes his work in She-Hulk so enjoyable to read. But he does capture the pathos that makes the character of the Thing so interesting. The Thing has always been a tragic figure. One of the focal points of the Thing is his lack of acceptance due to his appearance. Now that he is rich, he finds that he is being accepted by people he normally wouldn’t associate with because of his money, a fact that he is beginning to dislike. This subplot could get quite interesting as it develops, exploring a familiar character trait in a new and interesting fashion.

The art by Andrea DiVito is solid, super hero artwork, reminiscent of Paul Ryan, Tom Grummet and George Perez. Each page is filled with clearly defined characters and richly rendered backgrounds.

The Thing series might not reach the quality or impact of Watchmen and may not make any lasting changes to the character of the Thing, but it might succeed by providing a well-written version of one of Marvel’s most popular characters, a version which builds on personality traits that have come before to create an even more interesting character.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/thing-1-2006/