‘Lost in the Longbox’ Episode 25: ‘The Thing’ #36 (1986)

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The Thing #36: Featuring She-Hulk Vs. The New Ms Marvel
(Marvel Comics, 1986)

Writer – Mike Carlin
Art – Paul Neary and Sam DeLarosa
Letters – John Morelli
Colors – Bob Sharen

Greetings from the Wasteland!

The Thing, to my knowledge, is the only member of the original Fantastic Four to ever have a solo book. This is the last of that run, which started with John Byrne and elaborated on the Thing’s roots on Yancy St., his foray into pro wrestling, as well as a major offshoot of the Secret Wars. (The Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation was a sport for people with only super strength.)

This takes place at a time when I had just begun to really collect comics, a time when She-Hulk was a member of the FF because Ben Grimm had decided to remain on the Beyonder’s Battleworld. Ben has run afoul of the CWF, finding that it’s a crooked organization. A man named the Power Broker has been beefing up the wrestlers with a drug that would give them super strength. Ben has teamed up with the newly christened Ms. Marvel, Sharon Ventura, also a member of the CWF and customer of the Broker, with whom he is smitten. The crooked wrestlers attack them but the Thing is weak, reeling from a previous injury, collapses. Then when he gets up he begins undergoing a Hulk-like transformation, his clothes ripping off, shredding as his body undergoes a change. The wrestlers, seeing his ruined state, take him to the hospital.

The Thing wants nothing more than to escape, his silhouette now showing that he is no longer the round rocky fella we have all come to know and love. Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk have a typically Marvel misunderstanding which begins from both of them wanted to help Ben and ends with them hitting each other on the lawn of the hospital. (I can’t begin to count how many books I bought expecting an epic battle and wondering why one of the cover characters didn’t just ask one more question before throwing a punch. Invariably they were good match-ups with a weak argument, making them less than believable.) When they finally realize that they want the same thing, they find that Ben has smashed his way though the wall and run off.

This is the last issue before Spiky Thing makes his appearance in the Marvel U.

Like I said, this is right in my wheelhouse. At a time when I was just getting into comics this was exactly the kind of thing that I was reading. The cover features the Thing holding his head and She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel on the verge of coming to blows over his achin’ head. This was the last issue of the Thing’s solo book, and it has an appropriately good cliffhanger ending, though the story itself kind of explains why the book was getting cut. The Thing as a wrestler could have been good, but that’s not a storyline that could last for very long. I remember being resistant to the spiky change, but I liked it in the end.

Always a pleasure to pick up something that I remember from my childhood, and this was one of those books. I distinctly remember buying books before the Spiky Thing, and after, so this was one that was on the shelves as I was perusing them. Fate placed it in my path again, and this time I bought it. (And this time, I paid 50 cents less than I would have in 1986. Always a good deal.)

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Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter:  @comicwasteland

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