Posted - October 7, 2016

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The Thing Marvel Two-In-One Annual 3:

Marvel Two-In-One Annual 3

If the creatives behind this annual (Wolfman, Buscema) wanted to highlight Nova they sure began with the right splash page.

Nova in flight

I love that Nova looks like he has no legs when he flies.

Suddenly, the skies over New York are ablaze and we have a scene reminiscent of Fantastic Four 50 when Galactus arrived on Earth.

The sky over New York is on fire

Mentioning the 'G' sets the bar a bit high though. We have something as gigantic but not as impressive - a Monitor.

A Monitor looms over New York

Behind the giant alien, something appears that is obviously inspired by H.G. Well's War of the Worlds.

A monitor and his machine

Nova tries to tackle the alien alone but . . .

Nova is thrown by a Monitor

Let's give Richard Rider credit, he knows when he needs help. He tries the Avengers first (we would too wouldn't we?), but they are unavailable. Next comes an amusingly ridiculous panel.

Nova talking to Jarvis

Did you catch it? Nova asking for the address of the Baxter Building - that is the address! C'mon. The Baxter Building sticks up prominently in the middle of New York City and Nova is a flier. Man, this panel is nuts.

The fun continues as Nova shows the Thing newspaper cutouts of himself that he somehow carries with him.

Nova showing the Thing newspaper clippings of himself

Beautiful panel layout as the two heroes come upon the giant alien.

Nova and the Thing confront a Monitor

We are shown a similar alien landing in Paris and we are taken to the alien mothership and a surprisingly human (actually superhuman) occupant known as Milandra.

The lady from the alien spacecraft

She reveals that - like Galactus - these giant aliens have destroyed their share of planets. Milandra converses with both the Thing and Nova.

An alien woman talking to the Thing and Nova

I think it's official we have Galactus wannabes as the villains in this comic.

This next panel reveals that Milandra is quite the giantess herself.

A giant alien woman talking to the Thing and Nova

More importantly she has a plan. It's not a very hopeful plan though since if she and her sisters are so powerful why are the Monitors able to imprison her? And them, for that matter?

These alien women are living energy batteries the Monitors use to power their ships and technologies.

The Monitors show up and by the time we get to the panel shown below I'm starting to wonder if Nova and the Thing have a fighting chance.

Nova tries to free the Thing from the clutches of a giant

A straight-on power vs. power fight isn't going to be good for our heroes.

Nova is dealt with unconventionally here. He is transported out to the depths of space. At which point we are reminded that the armor of the Nova Corps is designed to survive deep space.

Just before the Thing gets smashed to gravel, the fight is interrupted by Milandra and her, presumably, even more powerful sister. After telling everybody how tough they are the two girls disappear; leaving Ben to his fate. A fate the comes in the form of being thrown out of the spaceship.

The Thing is freefalling

Luckily, the Thing is able to summon the Fantasicar via technology in his belt buckle.

The Fantasticar saves the Thing

Using the Fantasticar, the Thing flies all the way to Tokyo. Why you ask? Uh, the yakisoba.

Meanwhile, the two sisters who left so hurriedly are engaged in freeing a third.

Two alien women attempt to revive their sister

Both sisters are repelled by a guardian Monitor.

The alien sisters are thrown by a Monitor

At this point, it is revealed that there are three sisters in all: Milandra, Kallara, and Ascare.

As the story comes together, it is becoming evident that there are three heroic allies -the three sisters - but there are also three antagonists - the three Monitors. A comforting symmetry that braces this annual which I hope will get really interesting really soon because so far it's just this prolonged anticipation.

The panel showing the gigantic Monitors arriving in Tokyo gives a sense of the panic their immense size causes on the populace.

The Monitors arrive in Tokyo

What follows next is both predictable and futile.

The Thing attacking a Monitor

Ben is the strongest member of the Fantastic Four. He's also the most straightforward. The Torch has all this options with his flame, Sue can get really creative with the force field. Mr. Fantastic, the most unpredictable of all, will most likely create a solution from his lab. Ben, he'll punch his way to solve a problem. Unfortunately, this problem seems literally too big for him to solve this way. Fortunately, that punch never gets to land. One of the alien women appears and spirits Ben away.

At this point, a welcome backgrounder of the heretofore mysterious Monitors is presented. They are a race that achieved perfection long before the Earth even formed. After reaching such a pinnacle they set out to other worlds with the intent of helping others achieve the same perfection.

In time, their seemingly philanthropic ideal got warped and the Monitors became destroyers of worlds they deemed imperfect.

One panel in particular from the Monitor's past jumps out at me.

The Monitors on their home planet

To wit: Perfection breeds boredom and boredom breeds decay. Really? I hope that someday I get to test this out. Right now my life is anything but boring. I'm in the real world and it's one problem after another for me.

While Nova is lost in space we get an inkling of his power potential.

Nova flying faster than the speed of light

I just can't let it go without a little criticism and the critique is based on this panel.

Nova in space being stretched by a space warp

Let me get this straight. The Nova armor can fly faster than light but only has a one hour air supply? C'mon, the air supply of scuba gear?

Everybody meets up. While the sisters see to a long-term solution the boy's are given the job of 'distracting' the Monitors.

Nova does his part.

Nova distracting the monitors

The Thing focuses on the ship.

The Thing destroying the Monitor's machine

A Monitor lashes out resulting in this very subtle panel

The Thing being carried by Nova

Did you catch it? The wisdom of the Thing: You only live once. Have fun. No matter if the situation is dire. Savor the moment.

With the last sister freed, the battle is now between the Monitors and the sisters. One of the sisters is the first to fall and it is revealed that these sisters, these power sources of the Monitors, are actually machines. Machines that have evolved and - more than that - they have become the receptacles for the souls of billions from all the worlds the Monitors have obliterated.

The battle has definitely turned against the good guys as the giant Monitors begin to rampage. The heroes go on the defensive of course, resulting in a revealing panel about the then new hero, Nova.

Nova attacks a monitor

Richard Rider reveals that underneath the armor he's just an insecure kid trying to do his best. I think that's a great angle even though it's been done before with Peter Parker.

Here's another Nova attack.

Nova rams into a Monitor

Smashing into foes like a flying juggernaut. I just realized that Nova hasn't been using nova blasts. At this point Richard must not yet figured out that he can do that.

Nova manages to push a monitor inside the crater of an extinct Volcano.

Nova pushes a Monitor into a volcanic crater

The three sisters do their part by 'waking up' the dormant Mt. Fujiyama.

This whole story was set in a different locale: Japan. Plus it is a special issue - an annual. But, unfortunately, the creative team fail to take advantage of the opportunity to give us an Oriental vibe to this tale.

Here are the four panels that effectively end the tale.

Alien women and a Monitor talking

As a further ending the sisters rebuild the damaged Tokyo (nothing is said about the deaths and injuries though).

And that's about it. What's the wonderful message of this story?

It is this: Sometimes, problems solve themselves. Ah, that's good news.

Next: Marvel Two In-One 47 to 48: Yancy Street Gang, Jack of Hearts