Posted - November 10, 2015

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Marvel Two-In-One No. 1
Vengeance of the Molecule Man

Marvel Two-In-One 1

It is the beginning of Marvel Two-In-One. This series will forever have a place among my favorite comics because, first of all, it features the Thing. Before Wolverine and Deadpool became breakout stars at Marvel, the Thing was the breakout star - this was around the late seventies and early eighties. The excellence of Marvel Two-In-One was a big part of the Thing's popularity.

Another reason I like this series so much is because it comprises a tour of the Marvel Universe. Since the Thing is partnered with a different Marvel character each issue, we get to see bits and pieces of Marvel lore. History that is still relevant to - and still inspires - the Marvel comics we read today.

So buckle up and let's look at the first issue of Marvel Two-In-One.

The series has an unpromising start with some silly behavior from Ben.

The Thing reading a newspaper

The Thing is mad that the Man-Thing, the Everglades monster, also has the word "Thing" in his name. Ben actually hops on a bus to go to Florida to have it out with the Man-Thing for this "infringement" on his moniker. Later on, we catch Ben thinking that, yes, he's behaving a bit irrationally.

The Thing thinking

So what's this all about? I think I know. Simple boredom. The Thing doesn't hold a job - he doesn't need to. As a member of the Fantastic Four, all his expenses are covered by Reed Richards. It's not a paltry allowance either - the Four live pretty lavishly. It's a worry free life really. Usually there's some crisis or other, some threat that must be fought. But the Thing is going through unusual days, peaceful days. Boring days. What's a super-strong Thing to do? Pick a fight that's what, and the Man-Thing is as good a candidate as any. So Ben heads off to Florida for some trumped up reason but basically - he's bored.

As the Thing moves to a rendezvous with the Man-Thing, something else is happening somewhere else that will have ramifications on the Thing's trip to Florida. That something concerns this man.

Molecule Man fighting the Fantastic Four

The Molecule Man is one of the most powerful characters in all of Marveldom. Owen Reece has been granted the power of a god - the power to control all non-living matter. As fate would have it, Reece was defeated by the Fantastic Four who quickly have a bit of a problem in there hands. Simply: Having defeated the Molecule Man how do you restrain a being with that kind of power? The solution is pretty elegant: Turn him over to another powerful yet beneficent being.

To restrain the Molecule Man, time itself is employed. Reese is exiled to a unique place:

Molecule Man sick in exile

Molecule Man has lost his power; although temporarily - Reece needs time to get back his terrible control of molecules. Time which he will not have. Time will flow so fast in Reece's place of exile that Reece will grow old and die before he can become the Molecule Man again. And die he does.

Death of the Molecule Man

With the original Molecule Man gone we have a new one, his son:

The son of the Molecule Man gains his power

Using machinery invented by Reece, his son becomes the new Molecule Man. This one is even more powerful than his father though - this new Molecule Man will be able to affect organic molecules too. This new Molecule Man is also very much weaker than his Father. We will see the terrible "chink in the armor" later. Actually, we'll see it now. Here it is.

The Molecule Man grows old without his wand

Because this new Molecule Man comes from a world (dimension?) where time flows faster he is reliant on that red wand of his. If he let's that thing go he'll age faster than Dorian Gray. This is a significant weakness and I'm very thankful for it - a fully-powered Molecule Man can make mince meat of the Thing.

Speaking of the Thing, he makes it to Florida but his first encounter is not with the shambling Man-Thing but the new Molecule Man out for revenge. The following panels are telling of this encounter.

The Thing and the Molecule Man demonstrating thier power

To the left, the Thing's brute strength. To the right, Molecule Man's mastery of inanimate matter. While all this ruckus is going on, the Man-Thing makes an appearance.

I mentioned the Molecule Man's significant weakness but now we are witness to his significant strength: The ability to affect living matter! Fortunately he is more sadist than killer. Instead of killing both the Thing and Man-Thing he toys with them, he reverts both to human form.

Molecule Man reverts the Thing and Man-Thing to their human forms

Two humans are nothing to the Molecule Man. He leaves the pair in the swamp and goes on a rampage in a nearby Florida town.

The Molecule Man on a rampage

Did I say he wasn't a killer? I was wrong. Witness the ghastly killing of an innocent civilian.

Molecule Man is a savage killer part the first

Ben's word's are our own.

Ben Grimms rails against the killing of an innocent

Thank heavens that the Molecule Man is drunk with his power and convinced that he is invincible because he makes a fatal mistake - he reverts both Ben Grimm and Ted Sallis back to their monstrous forms. Forms that no longer make them helpless civilians. The battle is on and during the course of it, Molecule Man loses his hold on the all too precious wand!

Molecule Man loses his wand

And so the "curse of time" prevails as the Molecule Man fails to reach his wand in time.

Molecule Mand dies because of his lost wand

Still, that was a close call. Even this second version of the Molecule Man is very much above Ben's weight class. Whew, the Thing dodged a bullet.

Next: Marvel Two-In-One 2 Manhunters from the Stars