Characters Appearing: ROM, Thing
Marvel Two-In-One #99
Issue(s): Marvel Two-In-One #99
But the sinister hissing that he hears is really ROM laying on the rooftop, sizzling after a fight with the Firefall armor that the Dire Wraiths have captured.
This time, the Firefall armor isn't occupied by a person. It's controlled by the Living Flame itself.
The Thing revives ROM...
...and ROM recruits him into helping fight back against the Dire Wraith's latest scheme, which is happening in a castle in Central Park.
The Thing says he's used to fighting flame guys, but ROM says this flame is too hot for the Thing to handle, so he sends the Thing into the castle after the Dire Wraiths while he fights Firefall alone.
This story was written before the revelation that the Dire Wraith witches are the females of the species that had an entirely different look, so what Bob Hall draws here isn't really like any version of the Wraiths we're used to. They look more like snake people.
The Thing manages to fight the Wraiths' fear-illusions, and he weakens the Wraiths enough that ROM is able to defeat the Firefall armor. But when he enters the castle, he finds the Thing has been put under their control.
ROM stops the Thing by using his Neutralizer to transform him back into Ben Grimm.
ROM is then able to quickly banish the Dire Wraiths.
Grimm, however, is not happy about being transformed back into human form.
It's because he's worried about what Alicia thinks about him. And soon, he quickly reverts back to Thing form.
Leave it to Bill Mantlo to take what is supposed to be a subtle and subconscious restriction that the Thing has placed on himself and hit us over the head with it.
It's always fun to see ROM interact with regular Marvel heroes, but this is an underwhelming Wraith threat and, as is often the case, the story fails to answer the question of why the heroes don't drop whatever they are doing to focus full time on the planet-threatening Wraith menace. The Thing just tells him to give him a call if he ever needs him again.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: I've got this in the same gap as a lot of other Two-In-Ones, from #92-100, between Fantastic Four #250-251. The MCP places this in the same break as Contest of Champions for ROM, which for me is between ROM #37-38. See the Considerations section in ROM #38-39 for more.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Here's a story that clearly establishes that Ben Grimm consciously prefers to be the Thing, moreso than any other story that I've seen so far. Ben's will-power to be the Thing is so strong that he's able voluntarily force his own transformation back into the Thing, in spite of Rom's neutralizer having just then negated all of his cosmic energy. I think this is what Ben has been doing every time Reed Richards ever attempted to transform him permanently back into his unmutated form. Maybe he absorbs fresh cosmic rays directly from the cosmic microwave background radiation. Ben likes being the Thing, partly because he likes griping, and it gives him something good to gripe about, and to blame on Reed.:)
Posted by: Holt | June 24, 2018 6:54 PM
As a contrast, Rom uses his Neutraliser on various gamma beings in Hulk #295 and cures them, except for the Hulk which it has no real effect on. Rom believes this is due to Hulk having the highest energy level he'd ever encountered, & that the high level of radiation has permanently damaged Banner over the years and there can be no cure.
I guess it could be interpreted that Rom is wrong & Banner has his own mental blocks stopping him from being cured, though at least in Thing's case there is temporary success, while with Hulk there isn't.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | June 24, 2018 8:31 PM
Ben is honest with Rom because Rom is not directly involved in Ben's life. With his friends and significant other however his duplicity is self-serving. Hey I know it's only a Mantlo story, but just like DeFalco and Englehart's stories, it's effectively canon until a later story contradicts it or retcons it.
Posted by: Holt | June 24, 2018 9:09 PM
Keep in mind though with the Hulk unbeknownst to Rom he was out of control due to Nightmare's magic- it's not clear how that could have affected things.
Posted by: Michael | June 24, 2018 10:10 PM
I can see how this trope got going. All of the Fantastic Four are capable of dramatic physical transformations, yet the Thing is the only one who is unable to return to his original form. Ergo, there is something specific to Ben Grimm, which is preventing this.
But when we are reaching the stage where he is consciously preventing this transformation because he fears Alicia won't love him anymore, then we are moving into the realm of the ridiculous. Being the Thing would be absolute hell. His sense of touch would be severely limited, his dexterity would be hampered by those fat fingers, he would not be able to have sex, even straightforward things like sitting in a chair would be difficult. That anyone would actively choose to live like that is bonkers. And where would this notion that Alicia prefers the Thing to Ben Grimm come from anyway? He has returned to human form on numerous occasions and Alicia has never rejected him. Not one of Byrne's best ideas and Mantlo's story should have been vetoed.
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | June 25, 2018 10:47 AM
But it wasn't vetoed so it's canon just like Lyja and She-Thing are canon. All we can do with them now is try to forget them and ignore them, just like most writers have been doing for quite awhile. Kind of shows a weakness in the system when the editors have no better sense about such things than the writers do, but there you are.
Posted by: Holt | June 25, 2018 2:05 PM
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