This week, we’ve got an in-depth review of The Thing #1, featuring a new creative team and a new story (set during a classic era). This review includes spoilers, so skip down to the end for a quick conclusive summary!
Plus, in the Rapid Rundown: Venom, Hellions, and MORE!
The Thing #1
Writer: Walter Mosley
Artist: Tom Reilly
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Joe Sabino
The Thing #1 gives an all-star creative team the chance to tell a personal story about Ben Grimm set during a classic era. From the very first panel, it’s clear that this title will be something special: as the new villain, Mot, appears in Brooklyn, he hovers above torn-out comic pages beneath a twilit sky. The hooded entity, buildings, and evocative coloring immediately hook the reader’s attention (and the font that announces the setting lets you know just whose ever-loving book you’re reading, True Believer).
From there, the story continues to offer page after page of outstanding Marvel Comics. Ben Grimm isn’t just facing off against Mot, he’s also facing Brusque. Over the course of this first issue, Brusque is established as a character foil for The Thing. Both Brusque and The Thing have dream-encounters with Mot in which Mot seemingly pulls their respective hearts from their chests and “corrupts” them.
This makes sense, considering Mot is associated with “death and decay.” Furthermore, the metaphorical potential of this super villains ability – to literally corrupt one’s heart – is enormous, particularly within the framework within which this series is operating. How will the relationship between Brusque and The Thing work out? It remains to be seen, but I bet we’ll end up learning a lot more about both characters by the time this storyline has ended.
In fact, The Thing #1 is filled with scenes, moments, and details that demonstrate a deep and thorough understanding of the characters and setting that are utilized in this issue (after reading this issue, you will have no reason to wonder why Mosley was tapped to write the introduction to the Fantastic Four No. 1: Panel by Panel hardcover from Abrams Books).
One particularly deft scene occurs when Ben finds his fiancée, Alicia Masters, with a male friend. The encounter leads to an altercation in which Alicia’s friend ends up using mace on Ben because he was perceived to be “attacking” the “normal people” – some of us don’t have the luxury of getting angry! When Ben accidently destroys a few parked cars as he involuntarily reacts to the mace, he ends up being arrested and incarcerated.
Not only is it a well-crafted scene that uses the Marvel Comics metaphor for its most potent purpose – demonstrating the very real issues that face marginalized demographics each day in the wider world outside your window – but it becomes an integral part of the plot’s progress. This perfect integration of plot and character is something that can be found in Mosley’s Easy Rawlins prose detective series, and it can be found here, too.
I also enjoyed the decision to set this story during “a classic era.” In some ways the aesthetic is reminiscent of the recent multi-issue What If…? story that saw Spider-Man keeping the symbiote suit (and, perhaps not coincidentally, that title also saw the Fantastic 4 heavily featured amid its retro aesthetic). Whether or not there is a deeper meaning for this chronological setting – like the fact that Ben won’t have his Bar Mitzvah for a few more years – remains to be seen, but for a personal story like this, there’s no narrative cost for setting this tale in the past.
Meanwhile, the art style evokes a bygone era, without ever getting lost in the weeds and losing its playfulness. From Reed Richard’s perfect TV Dad smile to Ben’s expressive stone face – not to mention a laugh-out-loud reaction panel from a hungover Hercules – Reilly goes hard, and every character in this issue looks amazing. Plus, the settings go hard as well, with Brooklyn, the Baxter Building, and a nightmarish dreamscape visited near the end of the issue each equally engaging in appearance. There are incredibly emphasized by Bellaire’s colors, which both stylishly communicate the mood of the setting or time of day while always allowing The Thing’s distinctive orange rock color to draw the eye towards him (no matter what else is going on in the panels).
And shout-out to Sabino’s sound effects for being consistently well done throughout this issue. From a mirror-image “BAM!” to show that the vibranium prison is “punching back” at Ben, to a “WHAM!” that fills the entire undercarriage of a two-door coupe as it is accidently punched across the street, these flourishes of onomatopoeia underscore a suitable injection of action into the proceedings.
I’ve been looking forward to this series since it was first announced, and yet, this issue has exceeded my expectations. It is difficult to image a more successful opening entry to this highly anticipated title – skip it at your peril.
VERDICT: An ever-lovin’ BUY!
- Eternals #7
- Half of the reason I picked this issue is that I didn’t hate the movie currently out, and that is what an editor dreams of, movie fans looking for the source material to help sell their books. Writer Kieron Gillen and artist Esad Ribić give us those main characters from the movie with a dark secret that makes us question their status as heroes. From the beginning of this series, it has been a sort of super-powered whodunit, this newest arc takes more of a political intrigue path as big bad Thanos looks to take control while the Eternals deal with the ramifications of that secret and what it means to be part of Earths population. If you like brooding and political chess moves, this book delivers. — GC3
- Hellions #17
- With the series nearing its conclusion next month, this issue had a bit of slow, fill-in quality to it that I just couldn’t place. The craft is still there, with Zeb Wells and Stephen Segovia delivering yet another heart-wrenching and oftentimes hilarious romp starring some pretty twisted characters, this time with them on a personal mission to save Nanny and Orphan-Maker. There are some great moments, mostly involving the team realizing that they’re not just a cobbled together group of misfits but are actually a team that cares about each other, which was nice to see. Segovia’s artwork remains strong, delivering on the humour and action that the series is known for by now. I’m just excited to see people get what they wish for next month with the apparent resurrection of Madelyne Pryor. Boy, Twitter will be the place to be when that issue drops, eh? — HW
- Venom #1
- Leave it to Al Ewing, Ram V, and Bryan Hitch to get me invested in a Venom series. This week’s Venom #1 picks up where the previous volume of the series left off, taking what was interesting about that book – the exploration of the mythology of the symbiotes, and the relationship between Eddie and Dylan – and adding fascinating new layers to both. V’s Dylan-centric sequences ground the series in a reality that’s recognizable and relatable, while Ewing’s Eddie sequences take Venom to the furthest reaches of space (and add time to the equation as well). Hitch’s artwork is as clean and stylish as ever, a stark contrast from the previous run’s ink-drenched linework. An intense family drama and an expansive cosmic odyssey in the same book is a recipe for success for this reader. — JG
Next week: Black Panther #1 (delayed by COVID-19-related supply chain issues), Shang-Chi #6, and MORE!