Marvel Two-In-One #81-85
Issue(s): Marvel Two-In-One #81, Marvel Two-In-One #82, Marvel Two-In-One #83, Marvel Two-In-One #84, Marvel Two-In-One #85
While moping around reflecting on his and Alicia's relationship, the Thing encounters a robot that's trying to round up homeless people...
...and he gets hit by the robot's knock-out gas. Meanwhile, Namor has decided to look up a homeless lady that was nice to him back when he was amnesiac. He finds that she's missing, and the trail leads him to an AIM headquarters, where MODOK has been experimenting on homeless people. He's also captured the Thing.
Namor and the Thing fight off AIM and MODOK...
...but not before the Thing is exposed to the radiation that MODOK was using on the homeless. After Namor leaves, the Thing starts feeling its effects.
The Thing tries to stumble home, but an odd assortment of multi-racial thugs decide they'd like to beat him up.
Luckily Captain America is around and he puts a stop to it.
Cap brings the Thing to the Baxter Building, and Reed requests Bill Foster's help. Bill has been having dizzy spells himself due to his own radiation poisoning.
After pausing for a weird expository thought balloon ("I know the Thing's life may be in grave danger, but I can't help being impressed by Reed Richards' amazing ability to stretch his limbs!"), Cap does a little investigative work and learns the location of AIM's main headquarters. The Thing, Giant-Man, and Captain America head to their HQ in Antarctica and smash their way through the AIM goons...
...leaving MODOK to drown in an icy flood.
They wind up with only a single dose of an anti-radiation antidote, and Foster administers it to the Thing, thinking to himself that Ben deserves it more because he himself is a "second rate loser".
At the start of the next issue (#83), Bill Foster has passed out and is quickly dying from radiation poisoning.
Mr. Fantastic sends the Thing to recruit Walter Langkowski, an expert in radiology. The Thing heads to Canada to contact him, only to find out that he's on a field trip.
Meanwhile, Langkowski, who is actually the Sasquatch, is out with Shaman on a racist journey to seek the ancestral tomb of Shaman's forefathers (that's an awesome tomb, though!).
Shaman warns of bad omens and then heads into a cave. Back at camp, the Thing's Pogo Plane touches down. Langkowski recognizes the pilot as the Thing, but still wonders if he might be the menace Shaman warned about. Which is a bit nonsensical. He turns into Sasquatch...
...and gets into a painful (for them and us) battle with the Thing where everyone keeps saying how much bigger and stronger Sasquatch is but the Thing just won't fall down.
This issue makes mention of the fact that Langkowski discovered that he was one of a tiny percentage of the Earth's population that would survive exposure to gamma radiation.
It's something that i don't think was mentioned in his X-Men appearances. In fact, to date, a lot of readers assumed that everyone in Alpha Flight was a mutant. I read this at a formative time, and to me, this was always evidence of the "X-Factor theory", the idea that thanks to the tampering by Celesital, certain humans have the ability to get super-powers from radiation that would otherwise kill them. Of course it will eventually turn out that Sasquatch's origins are something else entirely.
Back in the cave, Shaman unleashes a ridiculous spirit of an ancient Shaman called Ranark the Ravager. Based on the name, i was kind of hoping that Shaman would actually release one of the Great Beasts that Alpha Flight dealt with in a lot of their early issues, but no, he's just a ghostly naked stereotype.
Well, Shaman and Sasquatch call in the rest of Alpha Flight, except for Snowbird who's 'on maneuvers' and with the Thing's help they're able to stop Ranark.
Misinterpretation of the coloring in Alpha Flight's initial appearances result in Northstar and Aurora's hair getting colored white here.
Walter heads back to New York with the Thing and tells him that it's too late to save Foster.
Langkowski is gone by the start of the next issue (#85). Foster recovers his strength enough to head back to the West Coast so he can say his goodbyes to his former tech crew at Stark Industries. He also runs into Celia Jackson, his former girlfriend.
While he's there, in the sort of coincidence that shouldn't be occurring in a comic book written in the 80s, the Stark compound is attacked by a guy calling himself the Atom-Smasher.
The original Atom-Smasher was killed (not by Black Goliath) in his first appearance in Black Goliath #1-2, but it turns out that this one is his brother.
They apparently developed their powers together, and then this one had that one assassinated, because he was a "weakling".
Goliath accidentally kills the Atom-Smasher and then passes out.
This Atom-Smasher revelation doesn't work well with the one introduced in the back-up story in Marvel Fanfare #3 (see the References section). This story would have been published first, but due to the lag time with Marvel Fanfare it's possible that story was written prior to this one. This guy also doesn't look anything like the bald guy with the rings that we saw in Black Goliath #2. It's unlikely that this Atom-Smasher was in cahoots with Ambrose Connors, the guy with the rings as revealed in Marvel Fanfare, since in that story Connors isn't able to re-create the Nucleonic Radiator and has to rely on the prototype. If this second Atom-Smasher was working with Connors he should have been able to help re-build the device. It's possible that it was just a coincidence and Warhawk was double billing for the same assassination job.
Spider-Woman happened to be investigating the Atom-Smasher as well...
...and the Stark tech team tells her that they can cure Foster if she'll do a blood transfusion. But the transfusion will cause her to lose her ability to resist poisons. She agrees to do it.
My advice for anyone reading these issues is enjoy the nice Wilson/Stone house-style art (except for Sasquatch, but i'm convinced no one but John Byrne can draw Sasquatch properly), and do your best to skip over the dialogue bubbles.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This all takes place before the Thing is mutated into his original lumpy form in Fantastic Four #238. And since Marvel Two-In-One #86 works best before Fantastic Four #236 due to a Dr. Doom reference, this is all pushed pretty far back in publishing time.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
Virus X was also something that nearly killed Superman at least twice at DC in the Silver Age.
Ranark the Ravager sounds weirdly close to John Byrne's Great Beast Ranaq the Ravager.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 11, 2011 7:20 PM
The Spider-Woman issue was originally announced to co-star some of "the X-Men's supporting cast", which could have been a reference to half of Alpha Flight.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 6, 2013 4:20 PM
The AIM robot at the beginning is the same model that turned up back in Tales of Suspense #78 as the "chemical android." Weirdly, it was portrayed there as some kind of artificial lifeform that AIM grows in weird vats. It also didn't talk.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 2, 2015 10:51 AM
yeah, I recently picked up issue 85 and had the same thoughts as fnord. There is no reason for Atom-smasher II to appear here. Or to be honest at all. They could have told the story of Spider-woman saving Giant man with any other villain as the bad guy of the month.
Haven't read the other issues but I like the continuing storyline with Bill Foster.
Posted by: kveto | November 14, 2017 8:02 AM
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