For a couple decades, Benjamin J Grimm was Marvel’s #2 solo hero. Since the mid-eighties though he’s taken a bit of a backseat to others. With The Thing #1, we revisit the character’s glory days, albeit with a modern spin.
This series is something special, capturing the character in a timeless story that feels like exactly what we need to see to elevate Ben back onto Marvel’s A-list. It comes from novelist Walter Mosley, artist Tom Reilly, color artist Jordie Bellaire, and letterer Joe Sabino.
Ben Grimm just wanted to put his feet up after a fishing trip. There’s a dark presence on Yancy Street though, and it’s coming for the Thing. It’s going to make his life miserable, and there may be no punching out of this one.
There have been tons of writers come into comics from literature, film and more with no experience in the medium, and I’ve only seen one other come into comics with a first issue as strong and assured as Mosley. This is a nearly perfect comic book on all levels. Mosley has a very fun plot, he writes Ben in a way that doesn’t feel like a New York stereotype, and he interacts with the Marvel Universe.
Really, the only downside to the issue is the villain, as mystery box-style plot points have become a bit of cliché. Mosley writes that in a way that feels effective though. We know we’ll get answers, even if it takes an issue or two.
Reilly has quietly been doing these small projects, and I think this might be the book to push him into superstar status. His layouts and figure work are clean, and easily readable, but he adds a level of detail to the page that rewards deeper reads. He’s also able to make Ben- famously a large rock-man- extremely expressive and emotive, a sign of the best Thing artists.
Bellaire’s colors are great. She has a knack for changing the tone and palette to fit the story and art. Here her work is a bit softer, but evokes the flats and tones often used in the late eighties and early nineties, while also using modern techniques to prevent it from feeling dated. Sabino has some fun with his letter work, playing a little bit with bubbles and captions but retaining a great, clean read.
This all comes together to create a book that feels timeless. It’s a perfect microcosm of a character with a sixty-plus year publishing history. It also creates a conflict and a mystery that will bring me back for each issue. In the end, that’s the best kind of comic.
The Thing #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.
Ben Grimm’s return to the solo spotlight is everything good about superhero comics. The script shines, the art is great, and the colors are incredible. This is a book that you will regret not picking up.