When I think of Marvel Comics, the first face that comes to mind is a rocky one. A big orange rock face with two distinctly blue eyes. That’s right; I’m talking about the ever-loving blue-eyed idol of millions, The Thing. Ol’ Ben Grimm has been a Marvel mainstay for a while now and one of my personal favorite characters, and although he is obviously one of the main players of the Fantastic Four, having his own story is a rarity. So I was ecstatic when a new miniseries starring Ben was announced. The series is written by Walter Moseye and pencilled by Tom Reilly with colours by Jordie Bellaire and letters by VC’s Joe Sabino. So how is the first issue?
Well, I found this to be a solid showing for a start to this story. Tom Reilly is an incredible artist with a strong style and aesthetic. He gives the book a really strong aesthetic akin to something like Chris Samnee or Darwyn Cooke. For a character like Ben, that’s pretty ideal. He’s hardly the most easily emotive character, given his face is literally made of rock. But with this cartoony style, Reilly is able to give the character a lot of emotional range. Reilly also demonstrates a range in tone. Without spoiling anything in this book, the way the villain is established allows Reilly to go for a more horrific style. There’s a real menace and fear surrounding this antagonist that contrasts nicely with the lighter work following Ben. This contrast is also developed through the colours of Jordie Bellair. This is a stunning book with incredibly vibrant colours. Ben pops here better than almost any other art I’ve seen with the character. Bellaire uses the colours in some interesting ways that really sell the emotions of certain moments.
That emotional and tonal range is also key for the issue’s story. Mosley has an excellent grasp on the character, understanding his voice and what makes him so enduring. Ben is usually the Fantastic Four’s resident comic relief character, dispensing one-liners and catchphrases alongside powerful wallops. With this issue, Mosley is demonstrating affection for that aspect of the character. He’s still the lovable galoot we all know, and if you don’t know, he sets it up wonderfully. But he’s also trying to delve deeper into the character. So the book is very approachable for new readers. You can get all that you need to know about the character while also being able to enjoy a story that opens up the character more.
For those of us who have been following the character for a while, though, this issue feels a bit odd. This series is set before Ben’s wedding to Alicia Masters, which happened in early 2019. So the couple here are only engaged, and their relationship seems to be the driving force behind the story’s drama. Which would be fine, but we already know where this relationship leads. Again, without spoiling anything, this issue has Ben dealing with some relationship issues. These issues are shown really quickly, and I don’t think they had enough time to breathe. So the actual melodrama here rang a bit false for me, both in the story itself and within the broader narrative this story has inserted itself into.
Despite this, The Thing #1 was an excellent first issue with brilliant work from everyone involved. It’s a breezy and fun read that embraces the joys of the character while trying to explore him even more. It’s an easy recommendation for new readers and FF veterans alike. It’s not perfect, but I am very excited to see where it goes from here.