Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kicking The Bucket


At the same time Sue was passing around the Fantastic Four's first costumes that she'd had prepared, she also had duds to give the Thing--along with a less than tactful accessory, given how sensitive he was at this point in time to his misshapen appearance:



When Ben goes into battle later in the issue, though, that helmet hadn't been on his head very long before he ditches it for good:



It was hardly an auspicious moment for the helmet, or for Ben's costume. Ben would suit up again (briefly), but it looked like the helmet was rejected by either Stan Lee's decision or Jack Kirby's almost immediately, which seemed sensible from a sales point of view. After all, why create an eye-catching character like the Thing if you're going to hide his features? And how can the Thing distinguish his character if his facial expressions are hidden behind a helmet?

Cut to 31 publication years later (to the month), where Ben and the rest of the FF are involved in an altercation with the "Secret Defenders" who are out to bring in the Human Torch for setting fire to Empire State University. Or perhaps "cut to" wasn't the right phrase to use, given what happens next:




It doesn't help matters when, in the Watcher's citadel on the moon, a robot hammers into the injured spot on Ben's face and causes further damage:



Fortunately, the Watcher is a nostalgic softie, and has an exhibit of the FF during the time they first wore their costumes. And Ben takes the opportunity to don a replica of his old helmet:



Ben's fears about the damage worsening appear to be baseless, since the point seemed to be mainly to get the helmet back into circulation and have it contribute to a sense of nostalgia that writer Tom DeFalco and artist Paul Ryan (as co-plotter) were injecting into the book prior to their odd "Nobody Gets Out Alive!" plot leading up to issue #400. Ben would spend about ten issues in the helmet, before a mind-controlling symbiant attached to his head provided the excuse to just forget about it. (After all, a mind-controlling symbiant can't do much mind-controlling attached to a helmet, and it would also convey a less terrifying image.)

Ben goes on to meet up with Wolverine again, but a barroom brawl with the mad Thinker's androids has them joining forces and letting bygones be bygones. As for Ben's face, our old friend Hyperstorm takes care of that a little over a year later:



In hindsight, Ben's face injury seemed like a pretty pointless development, aside from the aspect of Wolverine being the cause. DeFalco and Ryan seemed intent on bringing the FF to their lowest ebb. Reed being missing and presumed dead; Sue steadily losing the ability to project her force fields; Johnny with one foot out the door. So what's available for Ben? Gosh, how about a face injury? It seemed to serve no purpose other than as an added measure to put the FF's house out of order for the duration of this plot. The injury was dragged out almost three years before Hyperstorm finally pushed the reset button--though with Onslaught waiting in the wings (and who can top that helmet?), that button was about to get one heck of a workout.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where did Sue get that outfit-"Strippers' Discount Warehouse"? Yeesh.....

karl said...

Marvel seemed to want to get rid of the FF at this particular time, it was so morbid, the storylines.

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