Issue(s): Thing #23
But now that Alicia's dumped him, he should be able to control the transformations no problem. Great news, right buddy?
Of course what Reed didn't know is that the Thing was recently forced to kill (metaphysically) his human form back on the Battleplanet.
So now there's no human form to turn back to. If only the Thing was aware of this information sooner...
Suffice it to say that the Thing does not leave the Baxter Building on friendly terms with his former teammates.
I would have preferred to see this confrontation handled by Byrne in the FF comic, but it's done well enough here. Also, it's pretty impressive that even after the Thing's return to Earth after a year away from the team, the situation hasn't immediately reset to status quo. The Thing is still off the FF, She-Hulk is still a member, and Alicia and Johnny remain a couple.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Fantastic Four #277 and Marvel Fanfare #20-21. I've pushed this forward in publication time a bit since Marvel Fanfare #20-21 has a dependency with Emperor Doom.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
There's some nice visual continuity here between Ron Wilson's artwork and John Byrne's over on FANTASTIC FOUR. It's nice. If Byrne wasn't able to draw both books using Wilson on THE THING was the right move. It makes the two books definitely feel like part of the same "family".
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 29, 2013 8:20 PM
Let's just pile some more dirt on poor Ben. His teammate/friend Johnny put the moves on his girlfriend Alicia. She casts him aside as if he were yesterday's newspaper. Now his best friend since college supposedly knew all along he could change back and forth between Human and Thing form?
Posted by: KevinA | May 12, 2018 10:01 AM
Does this story try to explain why the Thing couldn't turn back to Ben Grimm during all 7 issues of Fantastic Four #1-7, prior to Alicia's first appearance in #8? Because Ben has rage issues which go way back, and are much wider in scope than his relationship with Alicia.
Ben is a rage monster much like the Hulk; each of them has difficulties controlling their transformations. Neither cosmic rays nor gamma rays turn everyone into monstrous forms, but these guys, they do. It's something very complicated and particular to Ben's psychology (and/or physiology) which made him turn into the Thing, and stay in that form, and keep returning to that form when he tries to change back to Ben.
At some point in the future we'll see the Thing turn back to Ben Grimm again anyway. It happened during Hickman's run, if not earlier. I can't remember if this story was retconned in order to make that possible or not, in fact I had more or less forgotten this story. The idea that the Thing killed off Ben metaphysically, and coincidentally just in time for the whole Johnny and Alicia melodrama-- well it all just seems a tiny bit contrived. I don't think the Thing wants to change back to plain Ben Grimm because he likes having super-powers and because then, he wouldn't have anything to gripe about, or blame on Reed. Blaming Reed is an integral part of his character and always has been. And now he gets to blame Johnny for something new too. Pity party time.
Posted by: Holt | May 12, 2018 1:38 PM
I'm making so many comments recently chiefly because I've been reading these stories again. For the most part it hasn't been since I did so the first time around over three decades ago.
Posted by: KevinA | May 12, 2018 10:16 PM
As I slide this one into it's bag at age 50 I realize I probably won't read this series again. This particular issue though I would recommend looking up by any FF fan. If you don't own any of the series none of it is necessary except maybe this one. I would slot it in right after FF #277. It's essentially a "part two".
Posted by: KevinA | May 14, 2018 10:07 PM
Holt, we see Ben (as Ben) well before Hickman; in the final days of the DeFalco run a machine is discovered in South America that turns humans into "Things" and can turn Ben back to his human form. The machine runs out of juice (or something) right before Onslaught, so that Jim Lee can do a "classic" FF in Heroes Reborn, and then Franklin doesn't bother to reboot it for Unca Benjy in Heroes Return, but there were a good half-dozen issues of the Sue/Subby/Thing/Ant-Man "FF" (Reed was lost and Johnny was with Fantastic Force) where Ben was changing forms regularly and wondering if hitting on Lyja might not be nice karmic payback for the whole Johnny/"Alicia" thing.
No more of a mess than anything else in the late DeFalco era, but it did have the IMO benefit of undoing this "I Killed Ben" melodrama, so I gave it a pass.
Posted by: Dan Spector | May 15, 2018 9:03 AM
As an FF fan I've forced myself to read DeFalco's run twice, but it always leaves my mind in a puddle. I do remember the "Things" story towards the end, but must have glazed over the part where it retconned the "Ben-is-now-effectively-dead" situation introduced here. Which admittedly I had also glazed over, so I guess that says something about my selective memory as well as my attention span. But I only read this Thing solo series once, and, more than anything, sort of considered it to be an intrusion on my enjoyment of the Byrne FF run. So like KevinA, I doubt if I'll ever read the Thing series again.
A big part of my aversion to the first Secret Wars also ties into the way it interfered with FF continuity, concerning Doctor Doom as well as the Thing. Without the intervention of Secret Wars, the Thing might never have taken an extended leave of absence from the FF, and She-Hulk might have never had to fill in for him. Truly enjoyed having She-Hulk join the team, but will always wonder how things might have gone otherwise with the FF series (and even with this Thing solo series).
Would very much enjoy seeing the new Exiles series discover an alternate reality that turned out like that-- What If the Thing hadn't stayed on Battleworld? Might we have been able to avoid the whole Alicia/Johnny melodrama and Lyja Lazerfist retcon? We'll never know now. We can only guess.
Posted by: Holt | May 15, 2018 10:39 AM
Actually, it was Steve Englehart who undid the "Ben Grimm is dead" story when he cured the Thing in FF#325. So, the DeFalco era doesn't get any credit. Except for DeFalco as EiC who approved Englehart's(or John Harkness's) story.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | May 15, 2018 11:25 AM
I never thought we were meant to believe that the Thing actually had killed his Ben Grimm identity, just that he believes it. The Thing himself says here that he doesn't know how or why it happened, and doesn't have any real proof of it. There were multiple characters Thing interacted with on Battleworld that didn't really exist and died without any effect on the Thing, the only difference was that one particular character claimed to be Ben's human identity, but almost everyone was a product of the Thing's brain, not just the "evil Ben Grimm" identity.
Reed can't argue with him here because he doesn't know any of the details. If Battleworld had still existed, Reed would probably have flown over there with a newly invented super-gizmo, done 5 minutes of analysis & found out Ben was wrong.
Also, it's not as if the Beyonder, whose powers caused this, isn't still around. There is nothing to stop Ben asking the Beyonder to fix this when they meet during Beyonder's benevolent period, instead of what he actually does which is blame Beyonder for it & try to beat up an omnipotent being.
You could say this is another factor of Ben's psychology - living on a planet where he can live as Ben Grimm, his subconscious finds a way to stop this by "killing" Ben Grimm off, & when told that he could always become Ben Grimm, he now has another excuse why he can't turn back, & while he is angry at the god who caused the situation, he never asks the god to fix it.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | May 15, 2018 12:33 PM
I always thought of this as a fantastic epilogue to #277, as previously mentioned; even more so that Mike Carlin scripted it.
"Ulp...it's da Ding!"
Posted by: VtCG | May 15, 2018 6:13 PM
As discussed, in this issue Reed tells Thing that he can change back to Ben at any time. Thing responds that this is no longer true, expressing his belief that while he knows everything that happened on Battleworld for the past few issues has been a figment of his imagination, he thinks that when he killed the imaginary evil Ben Grimm, he killed the Ben Grimm side of him.
Strangely, only two issues later, some leprechauns grant him 3 wishes, and he uses one of them to change back to Ben. However, he then needs to become Thing again to save his life, and so uses his last wish to change back to Thing. However he decides that the leprechauns must have been a dream, so the readers know that he is wrong about having killed Ben Grimm, but I think he continues to mope about it.
While it would make sense to us on Earth-Prime to not believe in leprechauns, Thing does live in a world where undersea kingdoms, vampires, sorcerers, the Impossible Man etc all exist, so it's strange how Marvel heroes draw the line at leprechauns as being too silly to be real.
Unless, of course, Thing is creating obstacles so he can't turn back to Ben, and refuses to accept any contradictions of this...
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 20, 2018 4:54 AM
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