MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #28: BEN GRIMM/THE THING

The ever-lovin’, blue-eyed idol o’ millions, Benjamin J. Grimm.

Reed Richard, Sue Storm, her brother Johnny, and Ben Grimm launched an experimental rocket into a cosmic ray storm and, crash-landing back on earth, were transformed into the superhuman Fantastic Four.  Reed, Sue, and Johnny gained the power to stretch like elastic, to turn invisible at will, and to become a “Human Torch,” respectively, but Ben… Ben was permanently distorted into a humanoid pile of orange rocks. The Thing.

THE FANTASTIC FOUR #1 (1961)was the beginning of what’s considered the Marvel Age of comics. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s great breakthrough was the concept of superheroes with human vulnerabilities and flaws, who fought and reconciled like a family. In the Marvel Universe there were super-powers, but they came at a cost. Prior to that, superheroes usually had secret identities, mortal alter-egos they could retreat to when their adventures were concluded. The Fantastic Four did not; Ben Grimm couldn’t. 

Always a tough Jewish guy from Brooklyn, Ben was now too tough for the small and fragile world around him. At home only with his surrogate family, Ben channeled his great strength into his adventures with the Fantastic Four. Reed, the greatest scientific mind of his generation, looked for a cure for Ben’s condition, but could never find one. Outwardly Ben put on a brave face, playing the same lovable lout he’d always been, waiting for the moment he can let lose and holler  “IT’S CLOBBERIN’ TIME!”

Hope you’ll pass through this way tomorrow for another installment of MIGHTY MARVEL MAY.

MIGHTY MARVEL MAY #16: DOCTOR DOOM

When you think “arch villain,” no one fits the bill like Doctor Doom. Originally an adversary of the Fantastic Four, also created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Doom grew to be one of the main antagonists in the Marvel Universe.

Victor Von Doom was a college student from the European kingdom of Latveria when he met Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, who would later become Mister Fantastic and The Thing of the Fantastic Four. Doom was Richards’ greatest scientific rival. When Richards tried to correct Doom’s faulty equation on an experiment, Doom’s hubris kept him from listening. The experiment literally blew up in Doom’s face; he blamed Richards.

Now scarred (Lee preferred Doom’s face be ruin in the accident; Kirby wanted to reveal only a tiny cheek  scratch which to the egomaniacal  Doom would amount to the same thing), he donned an iron suit, studied super-science and magic. He declared himself Doctor Doom (because, after all, he never graduated college) and returned home to conquer Latveria.

If Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor is a cutting edge supercomputer in human form, Doom’s armor is a Panzer tank. With no less than the entirety of Latveria’s resources, and endless supply of lookalike “Doombots”, and one of the most formidable intellects on earth, Doom has set out to conquer the world many, many times. And he even succeeded once.

Doom is a complicated character, conflicted by his own desire to be the best, most noble, greatest man and his own selfishness. Ashamed of his Gypsy heritage, he fought and succeeded to make himself a king. His intellect matched (and exceeded) only by Reed Richards, Doom seeks to destroy him. But like many egotists, Doctor Doom is his own worst enemy. He is just as often undone by his own self-sabotage as by his enemies.

Please return tomorrow for another touching installment of MIGHTY MARVEL MAY!