In Review: Marvel 2-In-One #2

This earns my highest possible recommendation.

The covers: An appropriate two covers for the second issue of this series. The Regular cover is breathtaking, as it emulates the iconic cover of Fantastic Four #1. This features the Mole Man’s monster rising out of the ground in a forest setting, with the Thing in one hand, while the Human Torch flies around its head. Newer touches are the noticeable absences of Reed and Sue Richards and the addition of Doctor Doom who walks away in the bottom right, stating, “It will take more than this to get the infamous Iron Man into the action!” The artwork by Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor is incredible. The Avengers Variant cover is by Gabriele Dell’Otto and features the Black Knight, Captain America, and the Vision. The first two are back to back, while the Vision floats above them. All look ready for action. This is nice, but has nothing to do with this series. If Ben Grimm had been on the cover that would have been something, but he’s not. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Avengers Variant C+

The story: The opening two pages have Ben speaking with Alicia Masters and it will pull at any reader’s heart if they know anything about these two characters. Two days later, Johnny and Ben are in a Fantasticar on their way to Monster Island looking for something that Reed left behind for the pair to find and use to rescue the couple from the Multiverse. Chip Zdarsky’s banter between the two characters is classic, with Page 3 instantly establishing their relationship and expanding it as they make their way through the forest. The pair encounter an expected villain on this island and the reveal on 6 is great, with the dialogue by the first speaker on 7 fearsome and funny. The action that follows is big — Marvel big! It’s exactly the type of excitement I want in this book and Zdarsky increases it with the arrival of a surprising character on 10. This individual’s dialogue is amazing; again, exactly what I want out of this book. Out of the setting, two of the characters have words on 13 and I devoured them. Starting on 14 is a flashback to Reed, Ben, and Victor Von Doom in college, explaining how the first two tightened their bond of friendship, and why the latter despises the pair. The last two pages are brilliant, proving that if a reader thought this issue was pointless he or she was wrong. The final page gave me goosebumps. This is a perfect story, giving me all the feels of a classic FF issue. Overall grade: A+

The art: Jim Cheung is the penciler and John Dell with Walden Wong & Cheung are the inkers. This book is a jewel. The first page is brilliant as Ben mirrors The Thinker by Rodin. Alicia is beautiful, strong, and everything wonderful in being a human. She’s the perfect visual counterpoint to Ben’s appearance. Her touch to his chest on Page 2 creates a reaction from him that communicates so much that’s unsaid. That silent understanding reaches its peak in the third panel when neither speak. The first panel on 3 has Johnny and Ben speeding along in the Fantasticar. Johnny’s introductory pose says so much about who he is. The reveal of Monster Island on 4 is like coming upon a calmer Skull Island from King Kong. The action Johnny takes at the bottom of 5 is spectacular and serves as the perfect precursor to the reveal on 6 which is staggeringly detailed. The reaction from the heroes is perfection. The action on 8 and 9 is outstanding, cut from the Merry Marvel mold. The character that appears on 10 is epic in his abilities. The flashback sequences are tremendous looking, with the close-ups of Reed on 16 and Victor on 17 wonderful. Again, so much is said to the reader with the visuals without any dialogue. The final page is a magical full-paged splash, as if seeing the Ruby Slippers or a lightsaber for the first time. This is what comic books look like in heaven: flawless as they create thrills, joy, and wonder. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Frank Martin’s contributions make the visuals all the more excellent. His colors are soft, making every emotional moment increase tenfold. The opening pages between Alicia and Ben are beautiful. The journey and arrival at Monster Island set an erroneously calm tone. Johnny’s Flame On! on 5 is powerful in orange and red, and it excellently highlights the characters on 6. The greens that start on 9 are the brightest colors of the book, and rightfully so for they scream of something unnatural each time they appear. The flashback sequences are in faded colors, aging the story perfectly. The yellow and white used for the final three panels of the book are magic. Yeah, Martin’s work is that good. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The story’s titles and credits, dialogue, scene settings, yells, sounds, and whispers are created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. I want big and bold letters for the story’s title and credits and right out of the box, Caramagna does this. The dialogue is placed perfectly, never obscuring key components of the art. The sounds are incredible, being everything one would want when action begins in a Marvel book. Outstanding. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is the best book of the week. The story is awesome and the visuals are heaven on a page. This is why people still read comics. I want this in a hardcover edition immediately. This earns my highest possible recommendation. 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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