What does Benjamin J. Grimm do when he isn't busy with the Fantastic Four? Well, in The Thing by Walter Mosley and Tom Reilly, he clobbers everything in his path. This new six-issue miniseries takes Aunt Petunia's favorite nephew and strips him down to his core elements, putting Ben between a rock and a hard place when he gets hit with feelings of existential dread. On the heels of the 60th anniversary of Marvel's First Family, The Thing #1 is a fun, timeless introduction to one of Marvel's most iconic superheroes.
The Thing #1 is set in the yesteryear of the Fantastic Four. It opens with a cloaked figure lurking in the shadows of Brooklyn, ominously attacking a man. As the story catches up with the Thing, Ben is at a personal low. He walks the streets of Manhattan and comes across Alicia Masters. Unfortunately, Ben's temper gets the better of him and he gets into a fight with Alicia's friend, which in turn gets him sent to jail. Mr. Fantastic bails Ben out of the bind. Frustrated, Ben creates an online dating profile before going to bed. In his dreams, Ben encounters the cloaked figure, who reveals themselves to be a Dark God with visions of death. When Ben wakes up, he is startled to find that he has already been messaged by a potential suitor. But when the Thing goes to meet her, somebody else already has eyes on her.
The Thing #1 is written by novelist Walter Mosley, making his Marvel debut. Mosley quickly adapts to the comic book format, crafting a layered and immersive story. Since the issue isn't set in the modern era, Mosley is able to use a more iconic rendition of the Thing, one who is more likely to punch his way out of a situation than take the time to consider the consequences of his actions. As a result, Ben is shown to be lonely and isolated. He constantly pushes away the people in his life, be they his friends or lovers. Though it is a familiar place to find the hero, the ending of the issue introduces new elements to Ben's life that have a lot of interesting potentials -- including a whole other side of Brooklyn than he normally encounters.
Artist Tom Reilly is in top form for The Thing, putting Ben into different costumes that highlight his larger-than-life personality. When Ben is sad, he looks downright miserable. When he's in the heat of battle, he looks like a rampaging bull. These extremes feel natural to the character and keep things lively for the reader. Additionally, Reilly creates an immersive setting for the story, with detailed city streets and thoroughly-designed background characters. The colors by Jordie Bellaire help elevate Reilly's linework even further, providing lush hues that layer the scenes with emotion. Bellaire's depiction of the Thing's prison escapade is particularly grabbing, as her stylized palette creates the illusion of sound when the hero claps his hands.
Overall, The Thing is off to a strong start in its debut issue. Mosley does a brilliant job adapting to his first Marvel comic and the work of Reilly, Bellaire, and the entire creative team is worth applauding. By setting the story in the Fantastic Four's past and pushing Ben's relationship with Alicia Masters to the side, the story is able to reexamine the hero's insecurities and inherent loneliness. The Thing #1 is a stone-cold success and worth taking the time to read.
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