1983 · The 80s

Feb 1983: Marvel Two in One 100 – Or, why does Ben ask Reed anything? Why?

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Synopsis: Marvel Two in One 100 was written by John Bryne and pencilled by Ron Wilson with Kevin Dzuban and Frank Giacoia providing inks and opens with a flashback from Marvel Two in One 50 when Ben ‘the Thing’ Grimm went back in time to cure himself, causing an alternate timeline to branch off. Reed ‘Mr Fantastic’ Richards tells Ben that it was more likely that this was a pre-existing timeline, leading Ben to the idea that this world may still exist and that Ben can travel there and meet the Ben who was cured. He does this and arrives (via Dr Doom’s time platform) in a post-apocalyptic New York, or in this timeline New Amsterdam. After a brief scuffle with some survivors, the Thing meets the other Ben Grimm, now in human form.

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Now from here on in, will refer to the Thing version of Ben as Ben A and the New Amsterdam version of Ben as Ben B, to avoid confusion.

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Ben B then relates the non-Thing history of this world. Spider-Man took Ben B’s place in the Fantastic Four, while Ben B opened a bar. Everything was OK, until Galactus arrived, this time there was no Silver Surfer turning moment, so Galactus was not stopped. He stripped the planet of all resources, leaving a withering husk of a planet and people on the verge of starvation.

This group of survivors is then attacked by some robot looking men who abduct Ben A and take him to a returning menace, the Red Skull. This attack kills half of Ben B’s group of survivors, the rest follow Ben B to get Ben A back.

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Ben A under torture (which to be honest doesn’t do much, but since he won’t be believed anyway) tells the Red Skull the variations in his world’s history, like the return of the Submariner not happening. This is a bit weird, since Wilson draws him in the Galactus scene. The Red Skull believes none of this and continues to torture the increasingly indifference Ben A.

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Ben-B uses the uniforms, from a defeated guard patrol, to sneak into the base of the Red Skull’s 4th Reich. (A disquieting use of the twin towers) and walk past a blind woman being beating. A very poignant appearance of Alicia Masters. As Ben B’s group make nuisances of themselves, giving Ben A the chance to free himself and now he has the measure of Red Skull’s Synthetic Men, we get some great action as Ben A lays a beat down on the Red Skull’s forces from one side and Ben B from the other. Trying to poison Ben A rather than admit defeat, the Red Skull himself falls victim to his dust of death and there is only a skull left, under the red mask. With the Skull dead, Bens A & B leave for the Baxter Building, so that Ben A can return home. Ben A blames himself, but Ben B points out that that there’s no way of knowing how many differences between worlds there were and so he should let that guilt go.

Ben A returns home and realises that though he is a monster, does he envy Ben B or would given the chance would he remain the Thing.

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Notes: I loved this series, with it’s out there stories and oddball guest stars and this is a solid 100th issue. The action is good, the plot compelling and both Bens are written as different people, but both very much Ben Grimm.

The Alternate world/Nazis thing is a well-worn trope, but I enjoyed how well it was handled here and the torture scene is fun, with Ben A cop-operating only because he won’t be believed when he tells the truth.

Wilson’s art is clean and very house style, the only issue is that its 70’s house style and I read this wondering if it was from 1983 or 1973? Either way a fun little read, which acts as a sequel to issue 50 and ends with a wonderful moment of melancholy, very Ben Grimm.

Next Time: More Thing as Ben hits Yancy Street.

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One thought on “Feb 1983: Marvel Two in One 100 – Or, why does Ben ask Reed anything? Why?

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