Marvel Two-In-One #50
Issue(s): Marvel Two-In-One #50
Mr. Fantastic develops a cure for the Thing...
...but realizes that while it would have worked on the Thing in the very beginning, back when he was just a lumpy mass and not drawn in his classic scaly mode, it won't work on him in his current state. The Thing decides to use "Dr. Doom's" time machine to go back and give the potion to an earlier version of himself. The early version doesn't recognize him, and can't believe that a monster like him could ever evolve into such a good looking guy.
They fight, and modern Thing eventually knocks out Lumpy and forces him to take the potion.
But when he gets back to modern times, he finds he's still the Thing. Mr. Fantastic finds out what happens and explains the Marvel concept of alternate-reality time traveling, which means you can't change your own past but instead create an alternate reality when you go into the past and make a change. The Thing decides he's ok with his failure because Lumpy Thing made him realize that's he's evolved past the worst of the monster look.
Reaction to this issue in the letters page for issue #55 is very positive. Some people take issue with the fact that Byrne is vague about how long it's been since Fantastic Four #1, and the response is used to solidify the concept of a relative time scale, saying that while it's been 17 years since issue one in real time, only 7 years have passed in Marvel time, and that time is basically frozen at 7 years beyond FF #1 going forward.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Superheroes Megazine #5
I wonder what the Thing's plan was for returning to the present. Was he absolutely sure that Reed would realize that he had time-traveled and that Reed would be able to find him and bring him back? I previously though that Doom's time machine traveled in time itself, in order to use it for returning to the present but that wasn't the case here. In my mind, the Thing simply trusted Reed to bring him back, even though he didn't even leave a note or anything.
Posted by: Ricardo Lopez | June 22, 2014 4:42 PM
Incidentally, the Beast says to Bloodhawk in the recent issue of Avengers that he's no Robert Redford. Redford was certainly the go-to guy for good looks within the Marvel Universe in 1979. I always noticed the early Thing's better speaking style and wondered why it isn't referenced.
Posted by: George Gordon | June 28, 2014 7:55 PM
For anyone who is a fan of the first Meatballs movie, this is the comic that Rudy (Chris Makepeace) was reading when he is in Tripper's (Bill Murray)cabin.
Posted by: Jeremy Noto | January 3, 2016 12:07 AM
Forgot about that scene; somehow I more remember the Captain America issue being read in "Poltergeist". (BTW: huge fan of "Meatballs")
Posted by: Ataru320 | January 4, 2016 11:08 AM
Based on the times the machine has been used before, there's an "automatic recall" device in it that pulls you back to the present after a certain amount of time spent in the past.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | June 6, 2017 6:32 AM
Does the "past is immutable" rule only apply when one time-travels to one's own past? In Doctor Strange #53, Strange travels to ancient Egypt, where he encounters Pharaoh Rama-Tut and the Fantastic Four, from FF #19. If the past is truly immutable in an absolute sense, that means Rama-Tut, by traveling into his own past, should have created a new reality in which the FF existed in that reality's future. In that new, 2nd reality, the FF traveled to its past, and encountered him, thus creating yet another, 3rd reality. Then when the FF returned to their home reality in the "present," that would've been the 2nd reality, not the 3rd, according to this rule. By the same logic, the Dr. Strange in DS #53 must have belonged to the 3rd reality, which was created by the FF's time trip in FF #19.
Thus, the Marvel Universe of Doctor Strange #53 is an alternate reality (reality 3) to the Marvel Universe of Fantastic Four #19 (reality 2). Such reality numbers are arbitrary, but the same logic could be applied to any other time travel story in which time travelers to the past encounter other time travelers to the past from other Marvel Universe stories. Since there are a large number of such stories, that would mean that not all Marvel Universe stories take place in a single unified Marvel Universe. Heresy?
Posted by: Holt | October 28, 2017 8:57 AM
If that's not the case, and we want to say that all published Marvel Universe take place in a single, unified Marvel universe, we need to have an amendment to the rule.
For instance, we could say that the rule only applies if one does something in the past that would affect his or her own personal destiny, such as was the case in this particular story. Or, we could say that the rule only applies if one travels to a period in the past which is subsequent to his or her own birthdate.
Such an amendment would be similar to the Silver Age DC Comics time-travel amendment where Superman was able to change the past, but never in any significant way, or the amendment where he would be a phantom if he traveled into a period in the past which was subsequent to his own birthday. I know of no such amendment in the Marvel Universe, but it seems like there must be one I don't know about...?
Posted by: Holt | October 28, 2017 8:58 AM
My fan theory is that the Nathaniel Richards/Doctor Doom tech, and its variants, are "sideways" time travel. Other methods, however, can send and have sent beings into their own past, allowing them to alter the timeline if they cause sufficient havoc; magic seems the most reliable way of doing this, but there are also technologies that do so.
Since, as Brian Bendis kept writing some years back, time is an organism in the MU -- indeed, it's the being Eternity -- time has some kind of resistance to being changed and tries to "heal" any damage and enforce consistency. (The alternate-timeliune shunt effect might even be just such a defense mechanism.) However, radical or frequent changes overwhelm this defense mechanism at leas for a while; this happened on a comparatively "small" scale after Age of Ultron, and in a big way during the multiversal chaos caused by the Beyonders, who were deliberately doing damage.
In both cases, the damage to Eternity was sufficient to damage the "boundaries" of the 616 universe, which Eternity is literally a dimension of. this resulted in various kinds of "leakage" of beings and even geography across alternate timelines. Since then, Eternity has clearly healed up, as indicated by things like the discovery that counterparts of Xavier's original 5 X-Men recruits are back in place even though the O5 still exist in the "present."
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 28, 2017 2:34 PM
Lotsa food for thought, Omar. Bendis seems to be everywhere. I'm a fan so far, & have read a lot of his stuff, but haven't seen his "time is an organism" ideas yet. Hope to find them soon.
There's a later Marvel Two-In-One story that follows from this one. Haven't found it again yet, but "our" Ben returned to the alternate universe he initiated in this story, and it's a disaster of unforeseen side-effects resulting from this story in #50.
My own fan theory is that a similar situation happens every single time someone travels into the past. Due to the "past is immutable" rule established and/or verified by #50, an alternate reality must always be bifurcated. Most if not all people in the new reality have no way of knowing it's an alternate reality. If they called their reality 616 in the original reality, then they would still call it 616 in the new reality. Why would they think otherwise?
Only vaguely familiar with the young X-Men counterparts; I think I learned about them from a youtube video. Isn't it the case that Hank McCoy traveled to his own past when he fetched them forward in time? Doesn't the "past is immutable" rule still apply in this case? We'd then have the original reality, in which McCoy returned to "his" present with the young X-Men, from a new alternate reality he created. Only the new reality would include a past event in which the young X-Men had disappeared. What happened in that reality afterwards? Maybe McCoy doesn't know.
Posted by: Holt | October 28, 2017 6:50 PM
"There's a later Marvel Two-In-One story that follows from this one. Haven't found it again yet, but "our" Ben returned to the alternate universe he initiated in this story, and it's a disaster of unforeseen side-effects resulting from this story in #50."
This is the story you're thinking of - http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/marvel_two-in-one_100.shtml
Posted by: clyde | October 28, 2017 8:36 PM
Well, your theory certainly makes it easier to write off unpopular time-travel/mystical-related retcons (*cough*OneMoreDay*cough*). On the other hand, it's hard to make any hard judgments about anything after the TVA closed off the 616 reality during Simonson's FF run.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | October 29, 2017 3:45 AM
Thanks clyde. I was still looking for that story this morning. These are two great stories IMO.
Good stuff Morgan, I had almost forgotten about Simonson's FF run. I still haven't read all of it-- I need to catch up. Going just on what I have read of it, it's worth reading all the way through, and well worth reading more than once.
Posted by: Holt | October 29, 2017 5:28 AM
This story strongly suggests that, in Byrne's view, anyway, the Thing's manner of speaking is, to a large extent, an affectation. He seems to be capable of speaking grammar-school English, but chooses not to, for either deliberate or subconscious reasons. Not a big surprise but I sort of glossed over the deeper implications of this during my previous readings.
The revelation that old-Thing believes that new-Thing looks, relatively speaking, so much more human than he does, suggests that Ben might have been subconsciously guiding the gradual transformation of his morphology all along, and shaping himself into a form which is more acceptable to him, although still monstrous, in accordance with his damaged self-image, and his conflicted desire to remain inhumanly powerful.
In conclusion, as we pretty much already knew, the Thing's head is a snakes' nest of conflicting emotions, self-delusions, inhibitions, mental blocks like bricked-in walls, and monstrous self-image problems which constrict him emotionally and repeatedly prevent him from realizing his true potential.
Posted by: Holt | March 26, 2018 8:40 PM
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