Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Thing: Idol of Millions - Dan Slott

The Thing has always been my favorite comic book character. I don't know why, but from the moment I first encountered the big rocky galoot in FANTASTIC FOUR #16 on Christmas Day 1963, I liked him. THE THING: IDOL OF MILLIONS is a trade paperback collection of a mini-series that was published several years ago, while I wasn't reading comics. Since I started reading them again I haven't tried to go back and fill in all the gaps from that time, preferring just to move forward, but hey, for Ben Grimm, sure.

Because of that, I don't know exactly what's going on here – Ben's a billionaire, for one thing, and lives in a penthouse, and he's dating some sultry actress, not Alicia Masters, who's evidently with some architect guy – but I didn't let that bother me. The collection opens with a multi-issue storyline where Ben and some of his rich friends, including Tony Stark, are marooned on an island full of death traps set up by the murderous super-villain Arcade (from the late, much-lamented MASTER OF KUNG FU, one of the best comics of the Seventies). After that there are several stand-alone stories concentrating on Ben's past when he was growing up on Yancy Street in a bad part of New York City, culminating in a story centered around a particular rite of passage in Ben's life and a superhero poker tournament that features nearly everybody who was active in the Marvel Universe at that time.

The scripts are by Dan Slott, who's currently doing a good job writing THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. They're pretty lightweight for the most part but a lot of fun. I grew up reading comics at a time when they weren't all bleak, earth-shattering epics, and it's nice to read some throwback stories like this. The art is by Andrea Divito and Kieron Dwyer, and for once I don't have any complaints about it. If you're a Fantastic Four fan, this collection is well worth reading.


Anonymous said...

Your favorite? Even more than Scrooge McDuck? I guess Batman is my favorite, but of the Marvel characters I do like the F4, though Iron Man was a favorite for a long time.

By the way, Happy Easter, James.

James Reasoner said...

Well, The Thing is my favorite Marvel character, anyway, with Nick Fury a close second. But Scrooge McDuck and Batman would both be 'way up there on my list of overall favorite comic book characters, I think. Others would be Captain America, Shang-Chi (the Moench/Gulacy version), Man-Thing, Green Lantern and Green Arrow (but only from the O'Neil/Adams run), Kid Colt, Concrete, The Spirit, good ol' Spidey . . . oh, hell, I'll be here all day if I keep this up. Let's just say I like comic books.

Anonymous said...

Good review -- but Arcade was an X-Men villain ( actually I think his first appearance may have been in Marvel Team-Up featuring Spidey and Captain Britain). Don't remember him ever bedeviling Shan-Chi, unless it was after Gulacy left the book (and I stopped reading it).

James Reasoner said...

You're absolutely right about Arcade, Anonymous. I was confusing him with Mordillo, who appeared in MOKF with the little robot Brynocki as his henchman. And Brynocki is Arcade's henchman in this Thing story, hence my confusion.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Enjoyed this post, Mr. Reasoner! I like The Thing too, especially his battles with the mighty Hulk. I have a comic-book featuring Hulk and The Thing on the cover and a blurb that goes — "In one minute The Thing will have wished he were never born" — or something to that effect. The Thing is often at the receiving end but, I suspect, he enjoys his epic battles with the green monster. You mentioned most of my favourite comic-book characters so I'll only add Daredevil and Venom. Apart from Tintin and Asterix, does anybody remember Iznogoud and Lucky Luke?