New Reviews of Old Comics
Man, who did this cover? It’s a total disaster and I’m not just talking about the building laying around our ever lovin’ blue eyed hero. His arms are totally out of proportion with the torso and the legs look like they should go over the Speedo shorts, opposite of how they should be. Could I have drawn a better cover? Not likely. Especially not in 1983! I, however, am not a professional comic book artist, nor am I an editor who would have approved this or sent it back for something better; especially for a first issue launch. With all the artists working at the “House of Ideas” in ’83 this was the best they could find the launch The Thing’s solo title? A less than auspicious start.
“Lifelines” is the title of The Thing’s premiere issue, written by John Byrne with Ron Wilson and Joe Sinnott handling the art duties. It opens with rocky Ben Grimm sitting on a trashed Yancy Street corner looking pensive about his old stomping grounds. The next few pages have Ben wandering through the streets and buildings reminiscing in a very wordy fashion; lots and lots of very full captions. Many words and few panels later The Thing blasts through a door to find the current Yancy Street gang hanging out, and they’re decidedly underwhelmed by the orange hero’s presence; they think he’s a sellout, moving away from the neighborhood and all. This causes Ben to tell of a time when he was young kid from around the way and his older brother, Dan was leading the Yancy Street Gang. Gangs being gangs a turf war fight ensues which ends with Dan being stabbed and dying in Ben’s arms. Since hero’s origins often involve tragedy Ben’s parents are also killed, but years later (not in a gang fight) and before he is old enough to live on his own, so Ben’s wealthy uncle takes him in. Despite being an unappreciative bastard, Ben does well in his ritzy school, especially with football, good enough to go to the same college as one Reed Richards (and Victor Von Doom). Then he joins the Air Force to become an ace pilot, at which point Reed remembers Ben’s offer to pilot a rocket if Reed built. The rest should be well known to any comic book fan. The issue ends with Ben walking down the street alongside a mustachioed man wondering if he got through to the young gang member.
Admittedly I bought this issue having read a few issues of The Thing in the past and not liking them very much (don’t even get me started on Marvel Two-In-One). I figured this one would be a laugher and good material for a beat-down style review. As previously mentioned, the cover stinks and it was extremely wordy, but overall I wound up liking the story quite a bit. It gave a new perspective on The Thing, a character I’ve always been ambivalent about. I’m not going out and hunting down The Thing issues to complete the (short) run of this title, and I’ll always have a particular disdain for Marvel Two-In-One, but this one wasn’t too bad, thanks in large part to the Byrne story.