Tuesday, August 28, 2007

my favorite comic

Not that long ago if you had asked me "Jeff, what's your favorite individual issue of a comic?" I probably would have stammered like an idiot. My brain just doesn't always work like that, putting everything in my life into nice neat best and worst categories. But earlier this month comics blogger Chris Sims made an off-hand remark in a review that clarified things for me. "Take a moment and think about that one Marvel story that stands out for you above all the rest. Now imagine how much more awesome it would be if the Enforcers were in it."

Suddenly, I knew exactly which comic was my favoritest in the whole wide world, because my mind was swept up with the amazing possibilities of adding the Enforcers to one particularly old Marvel rag.

The end of the world?  No.  Just the end of the run.
Marvel Two-in-One is my favorite comic series from back in the day. I buy almost all my old comics out of the cheapass bins, but Two-in-One I'll actually pull out of the expensive back issue boxes. The formula for this comic has always been very simple. The Thing plus some guest star get together and then lotsa fights happen. Sometimes they team up to beat down a baddie, other times the Thing and the other character just wail on each other. Either way, my favorite superhero always had the front and center of the story, unlike many of his appearances in the Fantastic Four. I got nothing against the rest of the FF, but they don't amuse me the same way brooding orange rockmen do.

I've not read the full run of Two-in-One yet, mainly because I'm not really a full run level collector. I think the only full run in my comics box is the DC mini-series Spanner's Galaxy. But I've got a haphazard collection of issues, and just today I snagged the two Essential collections on eBay for less than 20 bucks, including shipping. Hot dog, I can't wait for that box to arrive in the mail!

Number 100 was the last issue of Two-in-One, but it was immediately followed by a Thing solo series that was pretty good. The Thing wasn't quite as nutty as its predecessor, simply because the title didn't have to shoehorn in a random guest star each month. But I still grab back issues of it when I can.

I'm not going to scan in the highlights of Two-in-One #100, because if I start I'll end up scanning the whole frickin' issue. It's that jampacked with awesome. Instead, I'm going to hit some bullet points of what makes this issue so much fun. If anybody request scans of a particular item on this list, maybe I'll post some pics later this week.

Why Marvel Two-in-One #100 is super-rad to the max.
  • The cover itself is a bit of a freak-out. How the hell can Ben Grimm co-star in a book headlined by the Thing?
  • The story opens with a splash page of John Byrne's rocky version of the Thing beating up Jack Kirby's lumpy version of the Thing. This is a retelling of the awesome events of Marvel Two-in-One #50, where the Thing travels back in time and fights himself. I don't have that issue, but it's reprinted in the second volume of the Essential.
  • Our hero travels back to the parallel alternative timeline dimensional universe where he fought himself only to find New York completely ruined. Turns out in this reality Galactus won.
  • We're treated to several flashback panels where Ben Grimm (the Thing that was cured of monster-itis back in issue 50) relates how Galactus beat all the heroes and stripped the planet of its bioessence. Included in this sequence is the single worst drawing of Wolverine I've ever seen in a comic. As a kid I didn't even recognize the dude!
  • Suddenly blue meanies show up and beat the Thing unconscious!
  • Ben wakes up in the ruins of the World Trade Center, where the frickin' Red Skull now rules New York with an iron fist! The blue guys are the Skull's army of 'synthezoids'.
  • Meanwhile plain ol' Ben Grimm gets some homeys together, jack a Nazi jeep and some uniforms and bluff their way into the Skull's lair. That's one of the things I love about the Thing: you turn this guy's powers off and he's still one of the biggest badasses in comics. How many times have you seen a hero get all emo when they lose their special magical abilities? When the Thing is depowered he just goes right on jawjacking and smacktalking!
  • Speaking of talking smack, the Red Skull torturers him with a weird energy gauntlet device and the whole time the Thing is saying stuff like "Get bent!"
  • The big final fight is the Thing in round 2 against the synthezoids and Ben Grimm beating the hell out of Nazis. The Red Skull tries to off the Thing with a face full of the Dust of Death, but our boy just blows it back at the Skull. Somewhere in another reality a little different than our own, the Thing stone cold killed the Red Skull. I'm a big fan of codes against killing in my superhero comics, but sometimes you gotta make an exception. Skullfaced Nazis ruling post-apocalyptic New York is one of those times.
  • The Thing heads back to the 616 and does some trademark emo Thing brooding.

Seriously, aside from the pisspoor Wolverine, this is my idea of the perfect comic.


  1. To be truthful I've never been a fan of the fantastic four. But I have enjoyed the Thing. I think I have to find this issue. The Thing + Red Skull + Post Apoc NY = AWESOME.

  2. My current team in Marvel Ultimate Team-Up is Thing, Spidey, Ms. Marvel and Deadpool. Eclectic, but fun.

  3. I request a scan of the pispoor Wolverine.

  4. Now I must simply wait until some sentence, somewhere, sometime, triggers my own Moment of Clarity, because until then the idea of picking my single favorite issue of a comic makes me dizzy :)

    [tries real hard] No, not even if I limit it to superhero comics (which saves me the painful process of, for example, trying to pick a favorite issue of Groo the Wanderer, which is without question my favorite comic series of all time by approximately seventy trillion light-years).

    I can name the single comic book issue that had the biggest impact on my life: [Marvel] Star Wars #65 ("Golrath Never Forgets").

    But that's not my favorite. I'm not even entirely sure my favorite issue would be from my favorite series.

    Ow. My head hurts :)

  5. Arg! Memory flash!

    Man oh man, that was a seriously kickass comic. I remember wanting to put together a MSH campaign set in that universe, where the PCs would try to rebuild Earth, seeking technology, energy, soils, etc. from across the galaxy using leftover alien technology.

    It's one of the reasons I liked DC's Superman: Last Son of Earth Elseworlds GN so much. It had kind of the same theme, with Lex Luthor playing the Red Skull and ruling a ruined Earth facing Green Lantern (!) Kal El (the earthling Clark Kent, who as a baby escaped the destruction of Earth's ecosystem by being launched into outer space in a rocket built by his scientist father, Jonathan Kent... the rocket passed through a space vortex created by the energy wave that struck Earth, and the baby landed on Krypton, which had not exploded, and was discovered by scientist Jor El...)

    Anyway, if you have not read it, Last Son of Earth is a pretty cool DC take on the same idea.

    Now that's an idea for a supers campaign... combine the two universes... hmmm...

  6. If I had to pick a favorite issue of anything ever, it would likely be Doom Patrol #45.

  7. This is still eating at me.

    Limiting it to superheroes (or what for lack of a better word would be superheroes) I think it _might_ be Ambush Bug #1 (from the 1985 miniseries).

    There are at least 40 contenders swimming in my head at the moment, though. It's difficult.

    The word "favorite" is hard for me; I tend to think of "favorite" as a category rather than a single slot ... once something is a favorite (entered mentally into the favorites category), comparing it to other favorites practically requires rewiring my head :)

    If I define "favorite issue" as the one I re-re-re-re-read the most, and internalized the most thoroughly (as in, I still quote it to this day) then Ambush Bug #1 is at the very least a very powerful contender for the all-time winner slot.

    But so are about 40 others.

  8. Mine has to be Invaders #33, which has one of the best opening pages of I've ever seen. Josef Stalin on a train while the Defenders try (grudgingly, but out of duty) to protect him from Nazi operative Thor? Hitler raging at Thor and Doom later in the story? Man, you just can't beat that WWII-icon interaction.