The Thing #2, by novelist Walter Mosley, is a bit of an odd beast. It’s good, but at the same time it feels disconnected from its previous issue. It’s tonally dissonant from issue one, too, favoring something akin to a fairy tale allegory to tell the story of Ben Grimm’s date, Amaryllis Dejure, being kidnapped by the brutish Brusque.
But, let me re-emphasize: It’s still a fun read. Just… off.
This series marks Mosley’s first foray into the world of comics writing, and insofar as the actual application of a McCloudian craft, he’s got the stuff. The story ticks along with a clockwork precision, aided in no small part by artist Tom Reilly and colorist extraordinaire Jordie Bellaire. And visually, The Thing is a feast. Reilly’s work reminds me quite a bit of David Aja’s legendary work on Hawkeye – no small praise. And for her part, Bellaire wisely deploys a monochromatic color palette, accentuating Reilly’s work with her own high-impact work. There are multiple panels throughout that are wholly saturated with a single swath of orange, which is a a very, very cool effect.
The real problem with this issue lies in its incoherent narrative. The sudden swerve into allegorical fairy tale territory – the Thing has to rescue the “princess” from the “ogre” in his literal tower – comes very much out of nowhere. The plot also relies quite a bit on overt coincidences (one character even remarks as such, which is supposed to be clever but just comes across as cloying) to move itself forward, which makes it a difficult pill to swallow, and often rushes major points that should have had more room to breathe. There’s a revelation of a “New Manhattan” beneath the surface of New York City, but rather than take time to explore it, Mosley swiftly moves ahead to Thing brawling with Brusque instead. What could have been a somber moment to reflect on those society forgets swiftly devolves into fisticuffs instead.
Fortunately, Mosley clearly knows and understands Ben Grimm. The Thing is one of comics’ most important, lovingly-storied characters, and should always be treated as such. Mosley gets that, and his deference to Ben’s personality quirks is paramount throughout. He’s hurting, stung by the rejection of Alicia Masters (and society writ large), but at the end of the day is still noble, fighting to protect people, and can always be counted on to do the right thing (pardon the wordplay). With that love of character in mind, there’s clearly a good story for the Thing in Mosley’s playbook. I hope future issues’ plots course-correct to match his inherent love of the character.
Although the characterization and art in The Thing #2 are beyond reproach, the plot itself feels disjointed from its previous issue. Not a total miss, but definitely enough of a baffling choice in terms of plot progression to give pause.
ADVANCED REVIEW! The Thing #2: Fairy Tales
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 5/105/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10