In Review: Marvel 2-In-One #1

If this is the direction Marvel comics are going, then Make Mine Marvel!

The covers: Nine covers for this first issue and there’s something for everyone. The Regular cover is by Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor. Hammering through a wall is the ever lovin’ blue eyed Thing and the Human Torch. The Thing looks terrific and Johnny looks okay. I grew up with the Torch having lines on his body to show he was blazing, so this hero looks a little off to me. The debris is terrific as it blasts everywhere. A good introduction to this issue. The first Variant cover is by Alex Ross and features a fantastic (no pun intended) Torch with his arms outstretched, setting the borders of this cover aflame. Behind him the Thing raises his arms up to clobber the first palooka that gets in his way. I’m a fan of Ross’s work, but the Thing’s head looks a little off. Still, it’s Ross and his imagery is outstanding. The John Tyler Christopher Variant, the Trading Card cover, looks down upon the Thing smiling as he cracks his knuckles in anticipation of a slugfest. The character is flawless and the coloring spot on. I like that the character is on a white background, putting all the focus on him, and the borders are red, magnifying the focus. I need this cover. Jack Kirby, Joe Sinnot & Paul Mounts are responsible for the Celebrating Kirby’s 100th birthday. Now I’m guessing on this because two covers are credited to Kirby and Sinnot. I’m assuming Mounts was the colorist on this because this image of Ben standing pitifully in a downpour looks like it has modern coloring, opposed to the style of the 1960s. If one is a fan of Jack and Joe, Paul did well on this one and should be a copy you’ll want. Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnot are responsible for the Tee Shirt Variant, and again I’m assuming this because the coloring looks like that from the 1960s. This features Ben with his fists up bellowing “It’s Clobbering Time!” The other side of the cover shows the Thing’s backside, as well as the incredible talents of Kirby and Sinnot. The words “If you can read this you’re too darn close!” are on Grimm’s blue briefs. Funny and nostalgic. Jon Malin after Rich Buckler & Joe Sinnot is the Lenticular Variant for this issue. Moving the cover slightly shows two different images. The classic cover by Buckler and Sinnot hails from Fantastic Four #159, with the Thing in the foreground and the rest of the FF and the Inhumans behind him. The Malin version has the Thing again in the foreground in the same pose, now surrounded by Captain America, Rocket Raccoon, Iron Fist, Ms. Marvel, Thor, the Torch, Iron Man, and a red headed woman I don’t recognize. Both covers are great.  Mike McKone & Rachelle Rosenberg’s Variant is a head shot of the Thing similar in the fashion to the corner icons that were placed in the upper right corner of Marvel’s 80s books. It looks like a John Byrne Thing and his version or Kirby’s is fine by me! John Byrne & Paul Mounts features “remastered” artwork to create the next Variant. This has Thing with fists up, screaming at the sky while standing in a pile of debris. His code name is on the ground in yellow. Anything by Byrne is worth picking up, even this “remastered” version. Arthur Adams & Morry Hollowell’s Variant, has the Thing in blue pants and boots making his way through a brick wall with the Human Torch flying in behind him. The detail in Adams’s work has made him legendary and deservedly so; look at the details on the Thing’s rocky skin and the flame work on the Torch. Plus, Johnny’s got those little lines on this body that I adore. The coloring is also great from Hollowell, with the Thing and the boulders around him superb. Overall grades: Regular B+, Ross Variant B+, Christopher Variant A+, Celebrating Kirby’s 100th A+, Tee Shirt Variant A+, Lenticular Variant A+, Head Shot Variant A+, Byrne Remastered Variant A+, and Adams Variant A+

The story: Chip Zdarsky’s “Fast Burn” begins with Johnny Storm in a race and having an accident that would kill most people, were he not able to turn himself into a human torch. This is followed by a speaker recounting what the Fantastic Four did for the world and what they meant to people. It’s revealed that Reed Richards, his wife Sue, and children Franklin and Valeria are no longer around. A turn of the page and the speaker is shown to be introducing the Fantastic Award, a one hundred thousand dollar grant given to those who advance scientific exploration. To inaugurate the award is Ben Grimm, the Thing. His words go over well, more so than than when he mingles with the rich crowd. Thankfully there’s a kindred spirit there and though their meeting is brief, I hope Zdarsky has this character return. Being New York, the festivities are ruined by a superhero battling a villain. The fracas ends quickly, thanks to Ben, and the hero, Spider-Man, asks if he could check on Johnny because he’s worried about him. Spidey gives the keys to location that’s a treasure trove of memories for Ben. There’s a fantastic flashback sequence that occurs there that’s enough to motivate Ben for a year. This is interrupted by Doctor Doom who has words with Ben. The last six pages have what readers want: Ben and Johnny talking and it’s awesome. Zdarsky is writing these characters as I remember them from my childhood. Overall grade: A

The art: Jim Cheung does the pencils on this book, while John Dell with Walden Wong providing inks. The opening page is composed of nine panels that makes Johnny’s race exciting and scary. They lead to the large panel on Page 2 — almost a full-paged splash — that’s a great visual to show the reader how Johnny survived. The third page’s flashback is terrific, showing the FF in their glory days and how they depended on each other. I love that when Ben stands to speak he has to use glasses to read the paper before him; a terrific visual way to communicate the age of the character and show his humanity. I almost lost it in the that fourth panel on Page 4. Spidey’s entrance is memorable and completely in character, and though he’s only in the book for two pages I hope he appears more in future issues. Page 8 and most of 9 contain no text, relying on the artists to tell the story. The nostalgia is heavy and the emotions strong on these pages. Doctor Doom looks nothing as I remember him, with him resembling Ultron more so than the classic Kirby look. This was a disappointment, but I’ll willing to roll with the change. When Johnny returns to the story, again there’s no text, but the artists have made his emotion and intent clear in the silence. Storm’s reaction to when Ben touches him on the shoulder is fantastic. However, it’s the top of Page 18 that’s the standout image of the issue; even ignoring the dialogue (But why would you?), the panel gives me goosebumps. All three artists make this book look outstanding. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Colors telegraph and enhance the story considerably. Frank Martin foreshadows Johnny’s abilities by having him wear a red racing helmet on the first page. Johnny’s change in eye color teases for the reader that there’s something unnatural about this Storm kid. The final panel on the first page is a fantastic transition to the second page, with that color highlighting the fire surrounding the vehicle and the character. The colors are dimmed slightly on Page 3 to age the panels to make the flashback more effective. Notice how Ben only feels comfortable in the darkness of the fifth page, signifying that the bright lights, the spotlight, is not for him. Blues dominate on 9 and 10 when another flashback occurs: it symbolizes the group on those pages as well as Ben’s emotional state. When Doom uses one of his technological abilities it’s fantastic in green. When Johnny turns on his flame, the colors go orange and yellow brilliantly. I’m hoping that Martin stays on this series for a long, long time. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates dialogue, the story’s title, the book’s credits, sounds, newspaper text, yells, profanities, computer text, and the tease for next issue. This is the dialogue font I wish was used for every Marvel comic (Hint, hint, Star Wars titles), as it’s strong and gives weight to every characters’ words. The yells are huge, especially when they come out of Ben, and the profanity is wonderfully grawlixes. In the modern world, the actual swear words appear more often than this symbolic swearing, but I prefer to see my super heroes swear with these symbols. My hat’s off to Caramagna for making the text of this book visually entertaining. Overall grade: A

The Marvel Value Stamp: Hey, kids! It’s number Six of Series C — The Black Panther! This is an insert that can be clipped or torn out of the book without harming the comic, but we all know the book won’t be mint! This is my first Legacy Marvel comic (Whatever that means), so this was a total surprise and had me flashing back to those old school Marvel books. I have to admit, this has me interested to see what the other Legacy books contain! Overall grade: A+

The origin and summary: The final three pages of the book feature the origin of the Fantastic Four, where they’ve ended up, and why Ben and Johnny continue to work together. This is written by Robbie Thompson, pencilled by Greg Land, inked by Jay Leisten, colored by Frank D’Armata, and lettered by Caramagna. I appreciated these pages, especially for the second page telling where Johnny ended up. These were a good inclusion. Overall grade: A

The final line: If this is the direction Marvel comics are going, then Make Mine Marvel! The story is full of emotion and action, the premise is good, the visuals are outstanding, and that Marvel Value Stamp makes my inner ten year-old ecstatic. I’ll be sticking with this title if it stays at such a high level, and I’m now considering checking out the other Legacy books. Marvel, you got me. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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