The Thing Marvel Two-In-One 4 to 6: Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange
last we saw Benjamin J. Grimm, the Submariner left him to be the "nanny" of one Wundarr, a super-strong and invulnerable alien man with the mind of a child. Ben tried to hand off Wundarr to Reed but we all know Mr. Fantastic - he's the classic absent-minded professor. What's a blue-eyed Thing to do? Take Wundarr to the zoo, of course. Well, the zoo trip did not come out as planned. The mayhem covers a few pages but the two panels below are representative.
To the left, Wundarr is in full toddler mode. What makes him really dangerous is he's as strong as the Thing. In fact the innocent Wundarr has used his prodigious strength to set the zoo animals loose, which explains the panel to the right. The Thing doing zoo cleanup duties. It's wonderful to see that huge animals like lions and gorillas are no problem for the Thing.
The cleanup is just about over when a familiar figure shows up.
I think it's very refreshing that the appearance of Captain America doesn't result in a Thing/Captain America slugfest
. Instead we have this:
A nice, relaxing afternoon in the Baxter Building.
Oh, yes, before we leave the zoo, something important happens. Nita is also there.
Who is Nita you ask? She's Namorita, Namor's cousin, and a future member of the New Warriors. Anyway, Nita was very taken with Wundarr the first time she met him from before and she has offered to take care of Wundarr since she has a place nearby.
Ben, of course, agrees readily, and just like that, the Thing is no longer a nanny.
Back to afternoon coffee in the Baxter Building with Captain America.
Right before everybody sits down for a nice conversation in the living room Reed was tinkering with one of the two most famous machines in the Marvel universe.
It's Doctor Doom's time machine. The other famous machine is the X-Men's Cerebro. Anyway, the time machine is a wondrous piece of equipment it just needs some modifications here and there. For example, it needs some kind of protection from being accidentally turned on.
Yup. That's Benjy inadvertently bumping into the machine and turning it on while everyone goes to the living room for some coffee. And that is why coffee is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Tarin from the year 3014.
In a beautiful piece of comicbook writing, everything is explained in two compact panels
Ah, pieces of Marvel history. The Badoons (who Ben will repeatedly keep referring to as the 'Baboons') are an advanced yet savage space-faring race like the more familiar Kree, Skrull and Shi'ar. Unlike the other star-faring races, the Badoon occupy the Milky Way galaxy with us - so of all the space empires they are the nearest to Earth. Also mentioned are the Guardians of the Galaxy - more of these guys later, we'll actually meet them.
In a very satisfying turn, Captain America suggests that Richards send him and anybody who wants to go to the future so they can help fight the Badoon. And just like that, we have our expeditionary force.
Roll call: Captain America, Sharon (Carter?), agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Tarin going home, and of course, the star of the show. Look at this lineup. The upcoming adventure is something to relish for us Thing fans because Thing is most obviously the strong man of this group. No disrespect to Captain America's legendary prowess but Ben is clearly the heavy ammunition. Reminds me of that role playing game concept of the "tank". A "tank" is the toughest member of the adventuring team - a sort of wall the others can hide behind. That's what Ben is, he's the "tank" for this small team. One thing I would have wanted would be for Sharon to have gotten into her S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform before going into this mission - without it it would be too easy to dismiss her as just another civilian who's getting in the way, instead of an effective Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
And now, New York in the year 3014. We get a two-page spread for that.
The future New York, and the rest of the planet, are ruled by mankind's overmasters, the Badoon. In the manner of all autocrats, a curfew has been declared and our foursome are in violation of it. It's interesting to look at the kind of opposition they encounter.
First, the Zoms.
The Zoms are symbolic of just how cruel the Badoons are. These aliens have lobotomized humans to create mindless slaves. Lobotomized mind you, their brains are taken off. More than that, the Badoons have eradicated the Zom's ability to feel pain. Mindless warriors that can feel no pain. And entire armies of these Zoms are sent against our intrepid adventurers. Very early on, they realize that it's good to have the Thing.
The next kind of opposition is a bit corny. It's called the Monster of Badoon.
It may be corny but the design is very good.
But more than that. Here's the monster being hit with a Sunday special.
Both Cap and the Thing are taken out.
And it's game over.
During the Badoon 'interrogation' the Thing manages to wake up.
Considering what happened the last time, I'm not very hopeful about that punch.
The truth is, it would not have been very effective against the Monster but fate loves the Thing, the monster falls on the interrogation machine and gets electrocuted. Not enough to stop it but the Hulk wannabe is out of the picture for now. Once again, the fight is on and once again the Thing shows us what it means to be the team strong man.
Here's another wonderful display.
The Captain won't be left out.
It's clear that one of Captain America's strengths is his speed.
This fight inside the Badoon "throne room" and the fight outside in New York City is enough to get attention both from the Badoon's and the humans outside - including the Resistance. And including this timeline's rebel heroes: The Guardians of the Galaxy.
Love this panel. In one panel we get a visual on all the Guardians (well, not all really, Nikki is missing for some reason) and we get capsule introductions to each. Just wonderful. This panel has answers alright but it also raises questions. Questions like: Who are these guys? I thought it would be the Guardians of the Galaxy? Like you, I loved the movie and if you pick up comics these days you'll read about Starlord, Groot, Rocket and all the other Guardians. So who are these guys? These guys are the original Guardians of the Galaxy - the first team to bear the name.
And just like that. Reinforcements:
With this added firepower(and the Monster of Badoon still conked out) the "team from old Earth" manages to finish the fight. Panels are pretty 'meh' so nothing to show you really. Introductions are given after the fight, none more heartbreaking than that from Vance Astro.
I don't know which is more tragic the enormity of being overtaken by more advanced technology rendering his trip moot or his state of being a "living captive" of his suit. Talk about hard luck hero.
With battle won in the streets of New York, an assault on the palace is the next move. For the Thing it's a rematch with the Monster. That damn monster is too tough - how was it created? - so it's bound to end the same unless Ben gets lucky. Or, gets help. And that is exactly what happens.
With both the Thing and Charlie-27, the job finally gets done. But the battle goes on in the palace and here's a great full-page spread of that.
The battle of New York is won but the battle for the rest of the world must yet be fought. It is a job left to the Guardians and there allies as the 20th century team must return back in time in twenty-four hours or face being stranded in the future at which point an entire Marvel event will have to be created just to rescue them- and we can't have that.
What follows next is not so much Doctor Strange guesting in a Thing comic but the other way around. It reads like a Doctor Strange comic that happens to have the Thing as a guest star. Let's begin . . .
The scene: A New York subway:
Things to note: Dr. Stephen Strange and Clea (Clea in pink). Two rowdies, Duff and Nick off to the left. Sheldon and Renee (Sheldon in a tux). Alvin looking at a bottle. Everybody factors in this story except Alvin.
Oh I forgot. A girl playing the harmonica. Actually she's not a girl she's a --- I don't know. Here she falls on the rails.
Yup, definitely not an ordinary girl. And I told you this read like a Doctor Strange story.
A truly uncommon subway incident indeed as everyone goes their way. Doctor Strange is left with the harmonica the girl was using.
Harmonica in hand, the Master of the Mystic Arts conducts his own unique style if investigation.
He gets an answer from the "girl" who identifies herself as either destiny or an agent of destiny and has this to say about the matter.
I have a hard time deciphering what she actually said until I read the rest of the story. Since I've done just that, this is what she said. Each of the people on the subway got showered with those strange sparks. Everyone - except Doctor Strange and Clea - maybe because they're "mystical" to begin with - will manifest their greatest belief. Still a bit hazy? The rest of the tale will make it clear. The message is alarming enough for the Doctor to go out and search for these people. An impossible job to most but Stephen Strange can fly and he has the Eye of Agamotto (and we all know that Japanese technology is amazing).
First up is Sheldon and Renee. The problem: Sheldon just lost his face.
In comes the Doctor.
And an explanation.
So it's going to be like this huh? I like it. Very nice. Let's find the next one.
The next one is that punk, Duff. And this is where the Doctor bumps into Ben.
It's time to backtrack to how Ben got in here (which is funny because this is the Thing's book).
Going back a few hours, it's 2am. Look how peaceful the Baxter Building is.
It's even more peaceful considering most of the time we're seeing this place getting blown up. Inside, it's really peaceful.
What is that a king-sized bed? Ben makes it look like a single.
So Ben get's woken up by an old neighborhood friend.
I like this story because it focuses on the Thing's character and on his relationships from when he was plain old Ben from the neighborhood. The people who care for him don't stop caring just because he's changed into the Thing - and he cares for them still. It turns out that Mrs. Coogan is related to Duff.
Speaking of Duff, this happens to him.
This explains the rat.
And this resolves it.
There's one left: the homeless Alvin. But that's for a future issue together with the promise of a Valkyrie!