Posted - November 16, 2015

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

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

Marvel Two-In-One 16 Marvel Two-In-One 17 Marvel Two-In-One 18

I am getting the distinct impression that Bronze Age Marvel comics were virtually required to have stories that showcased the Hidden Land. Oh well. What's not to like? A tropical jungle in the middle of the Antarctic full of dinosaurs and mutant tribes and all sorts of interesting things that Marvel writers have thought up over the years.

One thing I have failed to mention during my wanderings through Marvel Two-In-One was the very evident bond between Reed Richards and Ben Grimm. It is the third time now that Reed has sent Ben on a mission to someplace. The first time was with the Ghost Rider adventure, then the Son of Satan journey to an Old West ghost town. This story is the third time. Benjy just goes - there's some grumbling, but he goes. His best friend wants it looked into, he'll look into it. One word: friendship. And it's a wonderful thing to see.

So it all starts with Reed detecting something unusual in his monitoring systems in the Baxter Building.

Reed Richards is detecting some unusual volcanic activity

The story is brought about by unusual global volcanic activity. Later on, the Thing would comment that it would have been better if the Human Torch was sent instead. I agree. This mission is full of heat, fire and rock-melting lava and flying would have come in handy. But alas, the Thing will have to make do. His target location: The Hidden Land. Here's Benjy dropping down with a chute.

The Thing parachutes down to the Hidden Land

The Thing is so massive that he makes that chute look like a fanny pack. Will the chute be enough to hold his 500 pounds? Evidently yes, it seems bigger then normal. Probably a special that Reed wipped up just for him.

We've all been to the Hidden Land in other Marvel books. The X-Men, Avengers, you name it. The Hidden Land is like a mall for super-heroes, everybody's been there at one time or another. In Age of Ultron Nick Fury would even have a secret base there with all sorts of goodies. One thing (pun intended) about this place, there's never a dull moment. Shortly after landing, Benjy's already having fun.

The Thing going up against a dinosaur

The Thing is perfect for this place, the environment is crazy dangerous. Rock hard skin, class 90 strength, iron-willed determination and more combat tricks than you can shake a stick at. The Thing was built for the Hidden Land.

The Thing slams a dinosaur into the ground

I did say that the Hidden Land was some kind of a mall right? Well, here's the mall administrator.

Ka-Zar and Zabu

Ka-Zar. Pronounce Kay-Zar. Spelled T-A-R-Z-A-N. Just like Edgar Rice Burrough's hero, Ka-Zar is a British Lord. Makes one think if Marvel was saving up on licensing the character by creating their own version. I've come to the conclusion that that is not the case. Tarzan, Lord Greystoke, is a 19th century character that would be very hard to write into Marvel continuity. Marvel managed to write Dracula into the continuity because Dracula is an undead prince - it was a simple matter of having someone pull out the stake and Dracula was back to trouble the 20th Century. Tarzan not so easy. So Ka-Zar was a logical creation, allowing "Tarzan" to hobnob with the superhero set.

Artwise, we are given a very nice single page shot of the Thing, Ka-Zar, and Zabu going up against an Allosaurus.

Ka-Zar, Zabu and the Thing taking on an Allosaurus

Here's an interesting shot:

A Mastodon charge in the Hidden Land

Mastodons. Technically mastodons (and while we're at it, sabre-tooth tigers like Zabu) and dinosaurs never met. Just goes to show that the Hidden Land is a delightful hodgepodge of all prehistoric creatures. Ka-Zar is also shown as being able to master these charging horde of mammals by essentially screaming from the top of his lungs. Absolutely ridiculous. I love it. Also, let's not forget Sheena.

Well one can only look at the flora and fauna for so long. So here we have Tank no. 23.

A tank in the Hidden Land

Michael Jordan's own personal tank ladies an gentlemen. Seriously (did I just say 'seriously'?), These uniformed men are led by one Volcanus.

Volcanus the would-be metahuman

This man is out to take advantage of the volcanic phenomena to rig himself up so that he can get superpowers. He's brought his crew and everything. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'd do it myself. What's wrong is this.

The Thing gets fired upon in the Hidden Land

Firing on the Thing and starting a fight. They should have just talked to the Thing and Ka-Zar and made it clear that they didn't have anything to do with the volcanic activity and are merely there to take advantage of it. And that would have been that and Volcanus would have been the newest superpowered villain in the Marvel universe. But instead a gun was fired and now everything's a mess.

You'll notice that the Thing was hit point blank. No bother.

The Thing solves another problem by punching it away

Here's another great action shot of the Thing.

The Thing takes on some uniformed henchmen

As for Volcanus he falls into the lava and his dreams of superpowerdom with him. And that's the story.

Not quite.

I noticed something curious about this tale. Ka-Zar is the self-styled lord of the Hidden Land and he's very territorial. When the Thing arrived, Ka-Zar was there, Zabu by his side. Gives me the impression that nothing happens without being noticed by him. So, logically, since Volcanus and his men came before Ben, I'm sure Ka-Zar might have noticed them too. But he never approached them. Whan the Thing showed up with Ka-Zar in front of those men it seemed that it was the first time these men encountered anything other than the beasts in the Hidden Land. Therefore, I conclude that the proud "Lord of the Hidden Land" practiced a healthy yet uncharacteristic timidity when Lord Volcanus and his men were concerned. When the Thing arrived Ka-Zar saw an ally of sufficient power, making it practical to confront Volcanus. It seems a loincloth and a knife can only take you so far - no matter if you have a sabretooth cat by your side. He does like to swagger, this Ka-Zar, but he knows when he's outclassed..

As for Ben, he does have a mission to accomplish so he begins a daring descent.

The Thing descending down a mountainside

This is the part when Ben rightly wonders if this job wasn't best given to someone who can fly. Still, having the strength of the Thing does have its advantages. For example, Ben can make his own handholds.

The Thing catches his fall by creating a handhold

At the end of his subterranean journey the Thing encounters the, quite frankly, unimpressive looking, source of all the geological activity - the Basilisk.

The Basilisk confronts the Thing

Like Ka-Zar, the Basilisk is also prone to preening. Fortunately, he's also prone to a headbutt.

The Thing headbutts the Basilisk

A basilisk is a mythical creature that can turn anything to stone with its gaze. So this villain is well named.

There is a slight difference. This basilisk freezes his foes rather then petrifying them.

The Basilisk turns the Thing to stone, or does he?

Fortunately Ben thaws fast.

A frozen Thing is thawed by heat being emitted by the Basilisk

A word about the panel below. That panel does not only show a violent collision between the Basilisk and the Thing it also shows them both teleporting to New York City.

The Thing and the Basilisk collide as they teleport to New York

Heaven forbid we stay out of New York too long, this is Marvel Comics after all.

We stop here for a bit because the Thing and the Basilisk are on a certain tangent headed to a specific location. They are fated to meet another one coming from a different tangent but for that we have to backtrack a bit to know where Spider-Man is coming from.

So now, Spider-Man.

Spider-Man standing below Doctor Doom's Time Machine

Floating above Spidey is the official Marvel time travelling machine: Doctor Doom's Time Platform. I'm not kidding, ever since its appearance in Fantastic Four no. 4 this time machine has been in use in one story or another. The Thing even used it with Captain America to help the Guardians of the Galaxy in the future, we have that story here. Age of Ultron uses this machine. And now Spider-Man has also used it in the pages of Marvel Team-Up. I have that story here. Spider-Man went to the past in that story but there is mention of trips to the future and adventures with Deathlok and Killraven. DC also has an official time machine: the Flash's Temporal Treadmill.

So Peter Parker is back in New York and trying to catch up on his studies.

Peter Parker studying his apartment

I notice that Peter hardly has anything by way of furniture. Time to talk to Luke Cage about how to set up a "hero for hire" gig Peter. Anyway, the Basilisk (and the Thing) announce their arrival via an earthquake. The big deal here is that New York doesn't have earthquakes. Underneath, the Big Apple is solid granite, that's why it's possible to build all those tall skyscrapers. In any case, something's up and Peter investigates and sees this.

A volcano in the middle of the Hudson River

Basilisk may not be a first tier villain but he's pretty powerful if he can do this. A closer look has Spider-man seeing this:

The Basilisk lifts a stunned Ben Grimm as Spider-Man looks on

Okay, what's going on here? Why is the Thing knocked out? It turns out that the Basilisk - much like Nightcrawler - has the kind of teleportation powers that strain any would-be "passengers".

The Thing is out of it, so Spider-Man launches into action and . . .

And nothing.

We are informed that the rest of the story is to be found outside of the bounds of Marvel Two-In-One and in the pages of Marvel Team-Up.

And so we are left hanging. What better way to get over it than with a new tale? This one has supernatural flavor and is centered on this painting.

A painting of the Scarecrow

The most important thing to know about this painting is that it isn't a painting. It's a doorway and behind this doorway is a demon trying to get out into our world. The scarecrow on the painting is actually a guardian keeping the demon in check.

And tonight is the night when the failsafes will fail. Fortunately, the Thing is on hand.

It all starts when this man gets possessed by whatever is behind the picture.

Somebody is compelled to step into a dimensional doorway

He is transformed into a fiery demon.

A fiery demon steps out of a painting

First casualty, the Thing's tuxedo.

The Thing's tux is destroyed by mystical fire

Curiously, the tux is made from unstable molecules, same as Johnny Storm's uniform. It should not have burned off. It just shows that Ben is dealing with the supernatural here. I'm getting worried because the Thing is no good with supernatural threats. I remember his adventures in the ghost town called Lawless where the Thing was forced to take a backseat while others did the job. Is this going to be a repeat? Looks like it because the Thing's backup suddenly shows up.

The Scarecrow makes an appearance

Like familiar foes, the demon and the Scarecrow have at it.

The Scarecrow vs a demon

Wait a minute, look at Ben. He's got this covered - literally.

The Thing bashes on the demon part the first
The Thing bashes on the demon part the second

Just when I thought the Thing had the victory.

The Thing is hit from behind

What did I tell you? Supernatural. The Scarecrow takes over the fight.

Scarecrow makes it rain on the demon

Apparently, the town of Lawless is miles away and so should any notions suggesting that the Thing is no good against paranormal foes. Look at this.

The Thing slams a demon against a wall

And specially this.

It's clobberin' time!

The Thing beats the opposition but it is the Scarecrow that seals the doorway. I like this Scarecrow - he's got a good backstory. That "guardian" concept makes him out like one of Doctor Strange's cohorts - tasked with keeping our world safe from mystical attacks. An immediate problem with this Scarecrow is that DC already has one . Also, when Marvel's Scarecrow appears on the scene he is accompanied by eery laughter - much like the Creeper's laughter. Must be why the Scarecrow never really took off. I'm glad we have this story to remember him by.

Before we go, I'd like to run over something I've noticed about Ben Grimm in this story.

Alicia and Ben gets invited to an art gallery opening. Ben doesn't want to go but Alicia makes him. So here they are:

An art gallery party

Everybody's dressed to the nines, and small talk is par for the course.

The Thing is having a hard time fitting in

As you can see, Ben is gruff - borderline rude - Alicia is having to apologize for him more than once. To make it worse, Ben Grimm seems flustered enough to lose his coordination.

Clumsy Thing breaks a statue

Him being the Thing, the hosts try to tell him about the seemingly supernatural Scarecrow. But Ben simply doesn't believe them to the point of walking away.

The Thing walks away from a conversation

I don't buy this. Ben has had all sorts of adventures, from the supernatural to the cosmic. This should not only be believable for him but, well, normal. What is with this attitude? I think I know.

Going back to Ben's adventure with the Golem, before the fists started flying, there was an incident in a bus.

Sometimes it's hard to be the Thing

Here we are shown just how hard it is to be the Thing in a social setting. Ben the outcast. Ben the freak.

It explains everything.

Fast forward to this social setting, this glittering gallery party. And now we know that Ben isn't bothered by the Scarecrow story - until it explodes on his face, I would surmise, but before that it barely registers at all. Ben is saying the wrong things and behaving clumsily because, once again he is the freak on the bus, and the rock hard Thing isn't so dense that he can't help but dread being shunned by these normal looking, fashionably dressed people.

Who hasn't felt this way at one point or another? I know I have. That's one of the many reasons why I like the Thing, I feel like I'm him sometimes - now, if only I could get super-strength.

And that, once again is our Marvel Two-In-One three-in-one. Thanks for joining me!

Next: Marvel Two In-One 19, 20 & Annual 1: Tigra, Liberty Legion