Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The End

Marvel 100th Anniversary Issues


Marvel Two-In-One #100

Marvel Two-In-One had featured Ben Grimm, the Thing, teaming up with a guest-star since its first issue, in much the same format as the successful Marvel Team-Up. And in this one-hundredth issue, Ben's words on the cover have a clever double meaning:

For as much as the wording refers to the scene of devastation surrounding the Thing and his human counterpart, it's also acknowledging a farewell of the magazine itself, as it ceases publication with this issue. Its sister book would continue publication for another fifty issues before it, too, folded; but as for the Thing, the character was simply shifting gears, continuing in The Thing the following month.

So "Aftermath," the story in this final issue, didn't have a great deal to prove in terms of the book going out on a high note. All it really had to do was to end on a good note, a satisfying note. And for the most part, it did, offering an interesting sequel to a story 50 issues prior, where the Thing travelled back in time to administer a cure which would revert an earlier version of himself back to the human Ben Grimm. His mission then was a success, in that sense; so if he was to reunite with that world's Ben, there would have to be a reason other than the one used in the first story. And it begins with a discussion Ben is having with Reed about the nature of their time machine:

Which, disappointingly, leads to Ben's reason to repeat the trip amounting to nothing more than mild curiosity about how events on the other Earth transpired without the presence of the Thing:

Thankfully, the story picks up significantly, as the scene of Ben's arrival hits us (and him) with an equal amount of surprise and shock:

To those familiar with the story of Galactus, the picture is worth a thousand words: Galactus' elemental converter, once again grafted atop the Baxter Building, but this time abandoned apparently long ago. And the ruin and destruction surrounding the landscape make it clear that Galactus, too, has left, but this time after successfully stripping the planet of its life energy. The Thing has arrived on a dead planet.

Soon after, Ben is thankful to find his other self still alive:

This world's Ben tells the Thing about the deadly arrival of Galactus--this time with no Silver Surfer to intervene so that the Fantastic Four could have the time to plan countermeasures. So instead, there could only be an all-out, desperate battle with Galactus. The first to die were the Fantastic Four, with the rest of the world's heroes not far behind in defeat:

Once his opposition was disposed of, Galactus proceeded to drain the planet of its life energy with his converter:

The Thing also learns how most of the planet's population has survived, since Galactus had not yet shifted his feeding needs from planetary elements to the life force of its indigenous species. And humanity's survival also meant the survival of those who would seek to rule even a dead world, as Ben would discover after being captured by:

Yet the Thing's human self gathered forces and stormed the Skull's compound. And after seeing the writing on the wall, the Skull fell back to using his deadly "dust of death." The Thing, familiar with the deadly effects of the substance, reacts quickly--and for the Skull, fatally:

Once the Skull has been dealt with, the Thing prepares to head back to his own world. But aside from the obligatory beat-the-bad-guy diversion here, the story has Ben preoccupied with something that's worried him since his arrival on this world--that the action he took earlier to remove this Earth's Thing has somehow changed history in a way that led to the Earth being destroyed. It's only when his human self assures him otherwise and points out the absence of the Silver Surfer's presence in the attack that the Thing feels some sense of relief; yet that does little to clear the melancholy he feels at leaving his other self to eke out an existence on a dead world.

It almost seems fitting that the end of the Marvel Two-In-One series consists of a fine, self-contained story that offers something entertaining yet different than the standard team-up fare that has come before. Equally fitting is that such a story appears in the series' one-hundredth issue; so in reality, what we have here is a notable one-hundredth issue that would suit any other title coming up on its own centennial landmark, an issue which also happens to end the run of the book. And "Aftermath," again, doesn't try to be more than that. It closes the door of Marvel Two-In-One not with a thud, but with a satisfying click and gentle lock. It doesn't carry the splashy fanfare that a usual "Issue #100" would attempt to convey, no--but in just seeking to convey interest and anticipation in the meaning behind two simple words, it succeeds in reaching both its pinnacle and the finish line.


Super-Duper ToyBox said...

Fascinating! I love the Marvel team-up!

Comicsfan said...

MTU #100 certainly rates its own post--I remember it being a very strange issue to read through. Karma, the FF, and Spider-Man made for an odd mix. I'm looking forward to reading it again to see if it hits me differently this time.

dbutler16 said...

I thought this was a very good issue but yeah, the Thing's reason for making the trip was a bit weak.