Aunt Petunia’s favorite Nephew, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing. You know the origin, while on a space flight with Reed Richards and Sue and Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm, test pilot extraordinaire was bombarded by cosmic rays. Upon safely crash landing (seems oxymoronical….I know.) back on Earth, Grimm found himself growing and changing into a monstrous looking form. He would from that point on be known as The Thing.
Arguable one of the most-liked members of the Fantastic Four, and one of the most-loved characters in the Marvel Universe, The Thing brings phenomenal strength, a sarcastic wit, and big heart to the game of the superhero biz.
I was introduced to The Thing through an old T-shirt of the hand-me-down variety that was floating around our house when I was a little kid. I wasn’t old enough to have seen the old Fantastic Four cartoon (where H.E.R.B.I.E the Robot replaced The Human Torch) or the even older cartoon where a kid named Benji had a ring that would turn him into the Thing. “Thing ring do your thing!” But I was always intrigued by this character. The look of The Thing always appealed to me. However, I never really knew anything much about him.
Then I was perusing some books in the school library when I was in fifth grade. I have no idea how to find these books today or when they were published, but my library had three hardback books for kids that explored the Fantastic Four, The Hulk, and Captain America. On the cover of the Fantastic Four book, I saw him…The Thing. So, I checked that book out, promising the other two I would come for them. It was in this book that I first read the origin of the Fantastic Four and began to discover who this big orange guy was. I was hooked. On comics. On The Thing. And The Fantastic Four would be a book I would collect to this day.
I am a sucker for super-strength. I don’t know why, I just really like the big strong guys in comics. The Thing is one of the strongest…not THE strongest mind you, but he’s up there. It seems a prerequisite for being a team of superheroes to have a member that is primarily about strength. Near-indestructibility doesn’t have to come with the package, but it helps. I wonder if it’s not the Fantastic Four that kind of started that whole trend. I mean, sure you had the Justice League, but wasn’t that just putting all the top heroes in DC together? I digress. My point is I like the fact the Thing is strong, and even though he’s not the strongest joker in the Marvel U, it’s always fun to see they ways that various writers use that strength for Ben Grimm.
Like most of my favorite superheroes though, The Thing’s power is not what makes him great. Ben Grimm’s personality is a great fit into just about any situation. He’s serious enough to be a straight man to guys like the Human Torch and Spider-Man, but he’s funny and lighthearted enough to be the comic relief in situations with Reed Richards, Captain America, or even Dr. Doom. He is likable in every sense of the word. His brotherly fights with teammate Johnny Storm, his sarcastic wit employed whenever Reed Richards begins a scientific diatribe, and his tender heartedness with children Franklin and Valeria all add up to make Ben Grimm a well rounded character who is easy to enjoy.
On a more serious note, if Spider-Man had an appeal for kids because he started out as a kid, The Thing appeals to people because everyone has looked at themselves and not like what they’ve seen. One of the driving forces of the character of Ben Grimm since he became The Thing is his loathing over his appearance. Ben Grimm is constantly plagued with unhappiness because of what the cosmic rays turned him into. In a cruel twist of fate though, Ben Grimm could not turn back into his regular form like his teammates. In fact, Reed Richards once hypothesized that Ben had some mental blocks in place for various reasons that kept him from reverting to his human form at will. Ironically, this is a common problem people with low self esteem have. Instead of doing the things they need to do to try and improve their self esteem, they tend to wallow in their misery. (Stop preaching Steve.) There have only been one or two times though when Ben’s self loathing have kept him from being effective. Those times have provided interesting stories though. Ben’s lack of self confidence based on his appearance have made the big guy pretty easy for mere mortals to relate to.
Finally, The Thing has provided some of my favorite fights of all time. I’m referring to his battles with The Hulk. I love a good slug fest, and when those two tie up, even though a Hulk win is usually the outcome, it’s always a good slug fest. One of my favorite Thing/Hulk fights took place between Ben in his augmented Thing state and the gray Hulk. It started in FF #321 and ended in The Incredible Hulk #350. Dr. Doom started it…long story. Anywho, Ben finally beat the Hulk, but didn’t realize it til after the fact, because the Hulk was supposed to be dead and just before Thing finished The Hulk off, a robot Green Hulk showed up. The real Hulk came back in the end, but it was a cool fight that spanned two comic books and was a blast.
It started as a kid intrigued by an image on a T-Shirt. It’s carried on with me to this day. As I’ve read and become more and more familiar with the character, he’s only remained one my most favorite super heroes. The Thing is one of the biggest reasons that for most of my childhood comic collecting I was saying, “Make Mine Marvel.”
Finally, this final picture of The Thing was drawn and given to me to use by Michael Cohen. Michael is responsible for the current look of the site and is currently getting a new even cooler look for the site together for me. Michael does web design, and you can check him out at Arkwulf.com or his deviant art page at www.arkangel-wulf.deviantart.com. He’s recently gotten his one thousandth hit, so help him get to two thousand as quickly as possible, and if you have a business looking into a website, throw his name in the pot.