This week, we discuss the Thing’s path from lumpy orange rock monster to cancerous green rock monster. After the usual Uatu spiel, we get a quick recap of the now legendary ‘Marvel Two-In-One’ #81. As if we’d need it! Everyone remembers the story of Ben Grimm’s capture by MODOK* and the forces of AIM** and his infection with the insidious Virus X***. Ben escapes and meets up with the FF again and he’s eventually saved by Captain America and the Bill Foster version of Giant Man (You have no idea how impressed I was that they didn’t call him Black Giant Man.). Giant Man briefly considers taking the cure himself after learning that it will cure his cancer but instead sacrifices himself and dies. For a while. Ben is cured and returns to a life of not wearing shirts and yelling.
But what if, true believers? What if instead of returning to his oldest friend and smartest man on the planet Reed Richards, Ben stole a flying scooter and went and hid in a cave? That ought to add some conflict to this whole thing, right?
Back at the Baxter Building, a hideous drawing of Sue Richards attempts to comfort Ben’s long time girlfriend Alicia. Luckily, Reed’s built a giant Thing-tracking rocket ship for just such an occasion. And because Ben takes one of these hissy fits every couple of months (Sooner if the Human Torch hits him with enough pies.) The FF head out in the Fantasticar to find him.
Meanwhile, Captain America and Giant Man attack MODOK’s base, searching for the cure. Giant Man manages to get the cure (Luckily stored in an enormous cure firing gun!) and then defeats MODOK by shaking him like an particularly large and ugly baby. Afterwards, he cures himself with some of the anti-virus and they take it back to FF HQ.
Back at the Thing’s hideous ravaged face, problems are occurring. Ben’s body continues to mutate. It also turns green and starts giving off radiation. Oh no, he’s turning into the Hulk! Actually, no, he’s just dying horribly.
The FF and Alicia arrive but Reed warns them not to approach because of the Thing’s high levels of radiation. Alicia, having somehow never heard of radiation and what it can do DESPITE LIVING IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE WHERE RADIATION IS LITERALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED SINCE THE SIXTIES enters the cave. She eventually convinces Ben to come out to get help from his friends. Which is great news until he explodes.
Yes, no longer able to control the swirling mix of radiation and cosmic energy inside of him, the Thing goes off like an atomic blast. Only Sue’s invisible force field saves the team. Reed tells everyone to look away as the force of the blast is blinding but Alicia is already blind and terrible at following orders and refuses to cover her eyes.
It’s a good thing she does because this is a magical happy ending explosion that somehow restores her sight for some reason. It also turns the Thing back into a normal human without a trace of radiation in him.
Despite the fact that he literally exploded. So Ben and Alicia get married and Giant Man joins the team but refuses to wear the FF uniform because I guess he’s a jerk. I’d watch my step if I were you, Giant Man. You piss off Mr Fantastic, he’ll kill you with a Thor clone, wrap you in chains and bury you in the backyard.
Next up, we have another terrifying tale of tragic transformation as we take a step into the Wayback Machine with Marshmallow Fluff Uatu (Behold! For he has observed an infinite number of pies!) to visit the best of the All-Old X-Men: The Beast!
So once upon a time, Hank McCoy AKA the Beast left the X-men for an exciting career working for a chemical company and not being murdered by giant racist government robots. Eventually Hank discovered the chemical cause of mutations in human beings and then drank it to prevent The Man from getting a hold of it. Which is a great plan unless it turns you into a big furry monster man. It all worked out for the best though and Beast ended up joining the Avengers. And then less best when he joined the Defenders.
But imagine a world… a world where Hank McCoy continued to mutate. First into a grey monster. And then a blue monster. And then a cat. And then whatever the hell this is.
Oh wait, that all did happen. Alright, screw it. What if Hank got all monstery?
So, after mutating, Hank escapes from his science lab, retreating to Central Park like all crazy people in New York (Please be aware that all of my knowledge of New York City comes from Home Alone 2 featuring Tim “The Tool Man” Curry.) Fortunately, Professor X has been psychically monitoring Beast since he left the Xavier Institute. Because once you’re an X-Man, you’re an X-Man for life. He sends Angel out to look for Beast, knowing Warren’s natural ability to fly and see things will make him an asset. For the first time in his life, Warren Worthington knows what it is to be a useful member of the team.
Angel corners Beast, who chucks rocks at him like a common park pigeon. A fight ensues and Hank wrestles Warren to the ground, almost killing him and then waving his junk in Warren’s face like a Full Monty cast member. He’s chased away by the arrival of Cyclops and Marvel Girl.
After an unfortunate encounter with a tossed cornice, Beast easily defeats his fellow X-Men. He’s just about to smother Marvel Girl in Jean Grey Poupon when Professor X arrives. Seeing him, Beast momentarily regains his senses and begs the Professor not to let him turn into an animal.
But, of course, Charles doesn’t listen and instead of consulting Reed Richards, Tony Stark or one of the other genius in the Marvel U about curing Hank, the Professor carts Hank’s furry ass out to the savage land where he can be free, running, playing and remembering dimly a time when he was one of the most brilliant men on the planet. Then the Watcher pops up to declare this a happy ending. Fuck you, Uatu.
Finally, we return to Fantastic Four 50 and the Galactus trilogy (Sadly not nearly so well known as Marvel Two-In-One #81.). In our original continuity, the space faring Silver Surfer betrayed his master Galactus to save the earth. As punishment, Galactus exiled the Surfer to Earth where he could fly around moping all the time and mourning his vanished junk. But just imagine… I mean, uh, what if… Galactus removed the Surfer’s powers, returning him to boring bald Norrin Radd?
After removing Norrin’s powers, Galactus ditches the poor bastard on Earth like your drunken asshole friend leaving you on the side of the road. Norrin pleads for help in returning him to his home planet of Zenn-La from the Fantastic Four but it’s still pretty early into their series and Reed’s not that helpful yet. It’s at that point that Uatu steps up to the plate and proclaims that “Though I am forbidden to interfere…”
“I CAN let you guys root around in my library for stuff that lets you travel through space super fast. I mean… I probably don’t have anything useful but….”
So while the FF help Uatu clear out his basement, Galactus heads back for Zenn-La. Now that he’s heraldless, he needs to eat a planet and can’t be bothered to look for one so he just heads back to the last place he couldn’t eat. There he’s approached by the Surfer’s ex, Shalla Bal. When Galactus tells her he ditched Norrin, Shalla gets the bright idea to follow in her boo’s footsteps. She figures she can pledge herself as Galactus’ new herald and then ditch him and grab Norrin from Earth.
Alas, the mighty Galactus is not so easily ditched. He senses her traitorous motives, removes her emotions and transforms her into the golden goddess of the spaceways, Starburns! I mean glow. Starglow.
At this point, Norrin arrives at Zenn-La in some sort of ridiculous contraption forged from the Watcher’s old sink and encounters Starglow heading the other way.
He eventually recognizes her as Shalla Bal (after first mistaking her for a man.). Of course now, she wants nothing to do with his hairless pink ass. Galactus watches all this and (for some reason) takes pity on Norrin. He returns to Norrin the power of the Silver Surfer and leaves him bound to Zenn-La where he can protect it from… you know, whatever. Mostly, as in keeping with tradition, the Surfer mopes.
*Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Espionage Law-Enforcement Division!
**Acronyms are fun!