Posted - November 15, 2015

Previous: Marvel Two-In-One 10 to 12: Black Widow, Ghost Rider, Iron Man

The Thing Marvel Two-In-One 13 to 15:
Luke Cage, Son of Satan, Morbius

Marvel Two-In-One 13 Marvel Two-In-One 14 Marvel Two-In-One 15

Twice during this story Luke Cage and the Thing does this to each other.

The Thing and Luke Cage having at it

For no apparent reason. I mean they could've just as easily have talked it out on both occasions. Then I remembered that the Thing is armored in solid rock and Cage has steel-hard skin. To you and I, taking - and giving - physical hits is a big deal. But that's because we're easily damaged. If I got rock-hard skin and you got the steel version I bet we'd be throwing each other around all day and laughing about it.

Yes, two Marvel powerhouses in one comic. What a formula for action. These guys can take on anything. That must be why they have to take on this:

Braggadoom, the Mountain That Walks Like A Man (hehehe)

Shit. For the record - and we'll get into it more later - this giant, ridiculously named, Braggadoom, is 300 feet tall. That's three times the height of Giant Man. Even taking into account the formidable strength levels of both Cage and Grimm, this is a problem. First because of this.

Braggadoom holds the Thing in its clutches

In order to use strength you have to have leverage. Preferably you should be standing on the ground or braced against the wall - something to push against. The problem with going against super giants is that they can grab you and your leverage is gone - the only option is to pry away their hands by pushing or punching down on the hand.

The second, more obvious reason is this.

Luke Cage strikes out against Braggadoom's foot

When you're on the ground the only accessible area to hit is the foot. You simply can't reach up to other more vulnerable areas - notably the face. Leave it to Ben Grimm to find another way though.

The thing throwing a wall at Braggadoom

Yeah,that can work. But this was done when Braggadoom was "only" forty feet tall. This green monster is growing. Why so? Let's look at were this giant came from.

A sentient blob under glass

Here is the beginnings of Braggadoom - an accidental experiment from a biotech company. During all the hubbub about the "breakthrough" this "blob" comes into contact with a human being (two of them) and Braggadoom is born.

The origin of Braggadoom

And he keeps growing.

This all happened back in the day when Luke Cage was better known as Power Man. Cage, ever the practical guy, was a "hero for hire". I always admired that because that would be the exact same thing I would do given the same powers. As Cage would probably say, "A guy has to eat". Even then, money matters aside, Cage always did have a solid moral compass. He initially rejects the offer to take down Braggadoom but upon hearing that Ben Grimm's life is already on the line he does this:

Luke Cage rushes off to help Ben Grimm

The guy's heart is in the right place but he remains practical - services will still be billed. And rightly so. Benjy might have Reed to bankroll him but Cage has to keep his own roof over his head.

Considering the size of this beast. The following panel shouldn't be a surprise.

The Thing and Luke Cage flying through the air

I think the best thing about this story is it allows us to do a comparison between the Thing and Luke Cage. Seeing that Braggadoom is knee deep in the river, the pair have to dive under the water in order to get to their foe.

The Thing and Luke Cage under the river

The first point of comparison is who can hold his breath under water longer. After initial attempts to distabilize Braggadoom underwater this happens.

Luke Cage goes up for air as the Thing ponders his next move underwater

As you can see in the leftmost panel Cage has to go up for air. In the next panels, the Thing is still under water contemplating another attempt at distabilizing Braggadoom. So the Thing can hold his breath longer.

The next test is the more obvious one: Who is stronger Luke Cage or the Thing?

Underneath the water Luke Cage uses a steel girder to try to tip Braggadoom.

Luke Cage tries to use a steel girder to unbalance Braggadoom

The attempt fails.

Ben tries to directly lift Braggadoom.

Ben Grimm upends the giant Braggadoom

Success! The Thing is stronger.

It's not the first time that I see an extremely powerful threat beaten - not by the heroes - but by circumstance (witness Doom in Secret Wars). It turns out that Braggadoom's physiology is volatile and his gigantism is only temporary.

Braggadoom shrinks

The creature doesn't go away though. The experimental being Braggadoom is still somewhere in the Marvel universe being cared for by his scientist creator, waiting for a second appearance in the the pages of Marvel comics that might never come.

The next Marvel Two-In-One guest star is a head shaker: the Son of Satan. You have got to be kidding me. It seems that Hell, with its cast of characters, was just too colorful a place for Marvel to pass up. These days, Marvel has veered away from the more religious-centric Satan to a devil of their own creation, Mephisto. But not in this story. Here we are dealing with Damon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan, who, quite frankly, behaves like an angel - and not a fallen one at that. Let's take a look at this guy.

Damon Hellstrom

This rendition really makes me chuckle. Specially the pentagram at the chest area. This is the kind of thing that would really rile up religious groups. I'm just amused that this got past the Comics Code Authority - still in full swing at the time. This comic came around the time that Dungeons & Dragons was getting all sorts of flak for having a demon-like Efreet on the cover of one of its books. Years later, Magic the Gathering would get the same kind of flak for featuring the pentagram. But just look at Damon Hellstrom here. Man, that is wild.

Looking at other aspects of the story we have a beautiful theme going here: Old West Ghost Towns. This kind of thing is not so much spooky but romantic. I know the real Old American West was far from the romanticized place we know now but I'm an adherent of the romantic view of the Old West, to me it's just another kind of fantasy place. Ben seems to agree with me as he wanders around a ghost town called Lawless.

The Thing in a ghost town

Be prepared for the Thing to be absolutely ineffective in this story. We're talking spirits and ghosts here. 90-ton punches don't work on these things. Take this guy for example:

The ghost of Jedadiah Ravenstorm

The ghost of Jedadiah Ravenstorm

Or this customer right here: Kthara, Mother of Demons

Kthara, Mother of Demons

Ben gets to demonstrate his toughness and determination.

Ravenstorm hits a resistant thing with eldritch blasts

But that's about it. Thank, uh, God, that the Son of Satan is by Ben's side. Damon has recourse to his hellfire effect.

Damon Hellstrom uses some hellfire

And the handy dandy trident (that's a technical term they use in hell).

Damon Hellstrom impales Kthara on his trident

All in all, this isn't really the issue of Marvel Two-In-One that you should bring to Sunday school.

Okay, enough about demons, now let's do vampires.

The story opens with a stunning splash page.

Morbius looms over Alicia Masters

When Marvel decided to continue Dracula's story into the 20th century the series met with remarkable success. So Marvel decided to create it's own vampire. Witness, Michael Morbius, the Living Vampire. He's a living vampire to distinguish him from the undead vampires like Dracula. Morbius never died, a scientific procedure meant to save his life went awry and changed him into the creature you see above.

With the blood cravings of the classic vampire, Morbius was about to take a bite out of Alicia when the Thing stages a timely (and explosive) arrival.

The Thing arrives just in time to prevent Alicia from being bitten by Morbius

I don't care if Morbius is a vampire, he has no chance against the Fantastic Four's powerhouse.

The Thing takes on Morbius

At one point during this story, Morbius describes himself and the Thing as "too well matched". That's a load of horseshit (batshit?), if it wasn't, Morbius wouldn't be flying out the window to get away from Ben like this.

Morbius escapes from the wrath of the Thing

With that it's time to introduce a seriously trippy character: the Living Eraser.

The Living Eraser

This extraterrestrial's power works like this.

The power of the Living Eraser

Okay. Now we all know what is happening right here, don't we? Let me guess. Discussion among the creative team: The artist says, "you know what would be great? If we have a character with a power that has the same visual of me using an eraser". Boom. There you go. The Living Eraser is impossible to take seriously.

Anyway, he doesn't really erase his victims - he teleports them to another planet. I like it, no one gets killed, they just get moved. The Living Eraser's last known foe was this guy.

Giant Man and the Wasp

Okay, pretty soon we've got a free for all between the Thing, Morbius and the Living Eraser and both Ben and Michael get "erased". They're on another planet and Morbius treats the aliens like they were moving soda cans - he just sticks his fangs into them and sucks away.

Morbius sucks the blood of an extra-terrestrial

All this while Benjy demonstrates that he can pull the rug from under anyone even if the rug is made of metal.

The Thing pulls the metal floor from under some attackers

The two manage to get back Earth-side for a second showdown with the Living Eraser.

The Thing and Morbius confront the Living Eraser

This time a successful one.

Behind all the action, this tale really showcases the Thing's guest star. Michael Morbius is a truly multi-layered character. Dracula is depicted in Marvel as an unrepentant predator. Morbius does give in to his urges but there is a struggle between the man and the monster he has become. In that other world, Morbius becomes heroic enough to earn female admiration.

An alien female expresses her  admiration for Morbius

The effect on the once-human Morbius is striking

Morbius longs for human companionship

It points to a tremendous regret for his lost humanity. All in all, I think Morbius was showcased very effectively in this tale.

And that, dear friends, is our Marvel Two-In-One three-in-one.

Next: Marvel Two In-One 16 to 18: Ka-Zar, Spider-Man, Scarecrow