The Thing #1
Writer: Walter Mosley
Artist: Tom Reilly
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
The Thing, aka Ben Grimm, tops most Marvel fan’s Favorite lists. The ever-lovin’ blue eyed Fantastic Four member’s gruff, blue-collar demeanor belies a Master’s Degree in Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, and Aviation. He calls it as he sees it, gets mad too often, and always protects the little guy. His mutation scarred him, unlike the other FF members, leaving him isolated from human connection most of the time. Ben’s rocky exterior separates him physically and socially from the rest of humanity. His most steady significant other is a blind sculptor, someone who loves the feel of rock and can’t experience his facade. (Not that Alicia would stop loving him, she is the best romantic partner in the FF universe of any of the characters.)
While modern FF showcases a happily married Thing and Alicia, The Thing #1 takes the Wayback to a much earlier time. Alicia and Ben are engaged but its rocky. The rest of the team left the Baxter Building for pleasure, leaving Ben alone.
Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, a caped figure of decay, breaks into a home. He corrupts the heart of a strong man going through a hard time. He serves another, but who that is remains a mystery.
Ben walks the street to find Alicia on the arm of another man. He overreacts verbally, which causes the perceived romantic rival to pepper spray poor Ben in the eyes. Blinded Ben accidentally knocks a parked car across the street. Alicia leaves Ben with the strange man, while NYPD shows up. They cuff and knockout spray Mr. Grimm.
After that, Ben comes to in a synthetic vibranium cell with Hercules. (Apparently, he had a bender with a woman that went south.) After some dialogue, Ben busts out, and things get weird. Not to spoil the real surprises but the Elysium Courtship Dancers avatar shows up. It’s probably not what you think it is.
Walter Mosley gave an interview a few weeks ago, discussing this miniseries. According to Mr. Mosley, while Ben may not be canon black, he often shares many of the experiences of a black man. Everyone tenses up around him. He never fits in, and if things get confusing for those around him, he gets little leeway to explain himself. He lacks the privilege or prestige of his fellow FF and Avengers. Ben can’t blend in, no matter how many trench coat and fedora combinations he tries.
Mosley illustrates his point clearly in the scene with the police, where a man pepper sprays him for raising his voice, and the police take him out before he gets a chance to explain himself. (Ben counts as the victim of misdemeanor Battery, not as a criminal here.) Ben’s otherism repeatedly factors into his life in this issue. He ends the issue worse than where he started, a victim of those around him.
Mosley spins a fresh take in a classic era. The comic explores Ben on a scale he deserves but rarely receives. Taking the rest of the team out of NYC works brilliantly to focus the story on Ben. The intimate story stays with Ben for most of the issue, letting the reader get a slice of life for the Thing. His intelligence remains understated but by no means overlooked. If Mosley continues to deliver at this caliber, The Thing will define the character for a new generation.
Tom Reilley’s art draws heavily from the seventies, even if pieces of modern technology appear. The clothes, the hair, and the cars recapture the magic of the classic comics. While the style lacks the cleaner detail more prevalent in modern Marvel, the art never suffers for it. The emotions in every scene sing so clearly you could follow the plot without a word of dialogue. The colors by Jordie Bellaire primarily use the Orange/Blue pallet of the Thing himself. The pallet distinguishes The Thing from the mainline FF comics. Even the lettering feels classic. If I wanted to critique this comic, I couldn’t; it’s flawless.
Verdict: Buy! If you skip out on this, you miss out on a classic in the making, perfect for seasoned fans and those new to the Yancy Street hero.