Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Coming Of The Man-Thing!


It all began on the fateful day when Ben Grimm, finally free of his existence as the rock-bound Thing, was shown by his former partners to a secret room, where he would discover just who would replace him in the Fantastic Four. Or--was he being replaced?



Which means there's no choice but to pose yet another


Marvel Trivia Question



How could Ben Grimm be replaced in the Fantastic Four by--the Thing??



It was mid-1976, and Ben's wish of being human again had finally come true. Yet Ben was finding that he missed the life of a super-hero, and that definitely included his place in the Fantastic Four. However, thanks to Reed Richards (and writer Roy Thomas), Ben was about to discover that he could have his cake and eat it, too:



Yes, the "Thing suit"--an exoskeleton that, for all intents and purposes, made him the Thing, but which he could discard whenever it *ahem* suited him.



Naturally, there had to be a breaking-in period--not only for the suit, but for the man inside it:




I have no idea why it would ever occur to Reed to rig a measured slot in a ceiling so that a stone slab could descend from it. Why would even a lab rat think that, one day, something like that might come in handy?

Yet Reed might be on target about Ben being a malcontent, though there are times when even that attitude comes in handy:





And so the Thing suit is given the green light, and Ben sees his share of action in it. We have to assume that Reed packed loads of unstable molecules into the suit that hopefully helped with wear and tear--because while the Thing could stand up to a good deal of punishment from the kinds of foes he engaged, it's doubtful a zippered suit could do the same without some sort of armoring in play.

Ben would only have the suit in Fantastic Four for six issues--but it would also get some exposure in Ben's team-up mag, Marvel Two-In-One, including a two-part time travel story written by Thomas which would take place in the FF and MTIO annuals for '76:




Unfortunately, Ben's resolve to never become the Thing again couldn't take into account a later encounter with Galactus, with an attack that saw the end of the Thing suit for good.






I couldn't say I was sorry to see the suit make its exit--and, if we're to believe the FF letters pages, the majority of the book's readers seemed to feel the same. On the other hand, we're all likely to be of a different opinion than Ben on the matter.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

That must've been one pretty tough monkey-suit. It enabled Ben to survive in outer space, as long as he kept the mouth closed (he didn't like that much!) and also stood up to a pummeling from the Destroyer, no less. That's a bit hard to swallow.
I'm not sure what the point of it all was, the change and then change back. It seems like they were doin' stuff with Ben just to fill pages. M.P.

Comicsfan said...

M.P., I also wasn't quite on board with the suit doubling as a space suit. A rock-like mouth being airtight was hard enough to *ahem* swallow (and you try holding your mouth closed while being pummeled by the Destroyer!)--but also, how were the open eye slits handled?

Anonymous said...

On the upside, we got a classic Kirby cover out of that particular issue. F.F. 172, right ? Great Perez art too, and a lotta cosmic stuff goin' on. One of my faves.
I'll overlook the decompression thing with the eye-balls.
M.P.

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