Marvel Two-In-One #20
Issue(s): Marvel Two-In-One #20
Brain Drain hypnotizes the Thing into giving us a recap of the first two parts of this story, and then lands his UFO on the Axis' floating platform so that the other Axis super-villains can be brought in to play.
Skyshark is just a good pilot, so on the ground he's just a guy with a gun, but the other two villains would normally be a good match for the Thing. The Thing is currently really just Ben Grimm in an exoskeleton right now, but while that is mentioned a lot, it is effectively meaningless since the Thing is as strong and invulnerable as ever.
Once the Liberty Legion show up, there's really no challenge left.
Brain Drain gets away, though.
So the Thing returns home, the Watcher seems satisfied...
...and the Thing inexplicably doesn't explain to the rest of the FF what he's been up to.
It's not a great crossover. It's a bit unusual in format. An event shared between the FF and MTIO annuals makes sense, but it's odd to see it spill into an actual issue of Two-In-One. They did say at the end of the Two-In-One annual that they "ran out of room"; don't know if they really meant that. But it is odd for the same guest to appear in two issues of Two-In-One, even if one of those issues was an annual. Beyond that, the story has a really contrived way of featuring both the Invaders and the Liberty Legion. If you wanted to include them all in your story, there was no reason not to do it during a single time-travel. The only reason it was divided into two was to get the Thing alone for the Two-In-One portion and even as contrived as that was, the way it was executed was even worse, with the Thing just slamming the door on his teammates for no good reason. I don't think anyone would have minded if the rest of the FF co-starred in the Two-In-One half.
Besides that, the use of the Watcher as the way to get the FF to realize the danger was unnecessary and handled weirdly in the aftermath of the Trial of the Watcher story, which i think did a good job of restoring the Watcher to his core mission. Having him back here skirting the rules again seems both too soon and too cutesy, especially since a key part of the ending of the Trial was that the Watchers take each others' word very seriously.
All that aside, if you just want an adventure story about the Thing fighting a Nazi brain controlling a swastika UFO, this is your story, and it's fun on that level.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues directly from Marvel Two-In-One annual #1.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I always assumed the Watcher had a "soft spot" for the FF. He seemed to like that group more than other "humans" on Earth. I mean, really, he saved all their stuff when the Baxter Building went up in space. That's a true friend IMO.
Posted by: clyde | February 12, 2015 9:25 PM
IIRC, the other Watchers said much the same thing during his trial in Captain Marvel #39
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 13, 2015 1:14 AM
The Thing says that he had never heard about the Liberty Legion before. How is it possible?
Posted by: jti88 | March 23, 2017 11:52 AM
With the sliding timescale, Ben was now born sometime in the eighties. It's not unreasonable for him to not have heard of such an old group when so many heroes have done so much since.
Posted by: Andrew | March 24, 2017 9:43 AM
It's a good argument against retconning in groups like this; if they're supposed to be a big deal, but readers don't take to them, then you get the weird disparity between characters acting like they're significant and readers finding them obscure.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | March 24, 2017 11:28 AM
Andrew - he wasn't born in the eighties when this issue came out. So, that excuse wouldn't work for this particular problem.
Posted by: clyde | March 24, 2017 12:31 PM
I think Roy Thomas deliberately stretched this out over 3 issues for at least 2 reasons. One, he gets paid 3 times for what is basically just one story idea. Two, he gets maximum exposure for his beloved Invaders and Liberty Legion, which he wants so much to succeed. But the first reason affects pretty much all his work, at least during this time period. He often stretches continued stories beyond the patience of many readers, including me for one.
On another point, it's becoming more and more important for me not to gloss over the interpretation that this is altogether a big fail for all the so-called heroic characters involved, as is common in time travel stories. It's later established in "What If," as noted above, that the damaged alternate realities remain damaged after our heroes go home to their snug little home reality, where they can safely ignore the havoc they've caused by meddling in other people's realities. Likely more than one nazified mirror reality was spawned, since there was more than one time trip.
Posted by: Holt | February 22, 2018 10:28 PM
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