Marvel 2-in-One #12
With this being the concluding issue of Marvel 2-in-One (don’t ask me why), it’s time to clean house of the last loose ends from the adventures of the Thing and the Human Torch. In this last issue, that means a little adventure for the Human Torch and his big sister, the Invisible Woman.
By now I’m sure you will have read Fantastic Four #4, in which Earth’s greatest heroes return home from their reunion battle with The Griever and move into 4 Yancy Street with the Thing and Alicia. If you haven’t, go and read it now and I’ll wait.
So, upon the FF getting settled into their new digs, Johnny Storm, our Human Torch, is still burning—and not in his good way—about the way everyone else has treated him lately. Reed and Sue didn’t give him a say in whether he would go with the rest of the family to explore/reconstruct the Multiverse. The Thing let Johnny believe Reed and Sue might still be alive when everyone including Ben assumed they were dead, and led Johnny on an odyssey across alternate realities to search for them to keep up his morale. Johnny has some justification for feeling as though he’s been treated like a kid, and an afternoon of shopping therapy with Sue doesn’t help. Fortunately, there’s something else to occupy the Storm siblings’ attention. Cue the return of the Mole Man and a parade of giant monsters down the streets of Manhattan!
The malfeasant Mole Man has some gripes of his own. The adventure back in issue #2 left him no longer the master of the monsters under the Earth’s crust, and he wants his accustomed position back. To this end he went for help to none other than our recent friend Rachna Koul, asking her for the power to command monsters again. Johnny and Sue battle the colossal critters as best they can until Rachna herself shows up and reveals that she did not impart any such powers to the Mole Man. So if he’s not commanding a lot of city-stomping beasts, just what is the Mole Man leading in his attack on Manhattan? Why, giant robot monsters, of course. Understanding the nature of the enemy, the Torch and the Invisible Woman make short work of them. Then, it’s time for Rachna to do some explaining.
As we’ve surmised from previous issues, when Rachna abandoned the Torch and the Thing on that planet with the demented Spider-Man and his Thunderdome-type arena, she returned to her home to find the Mad Thinker and his phony “Fantastic Four” there. They stole the Multisect from Rachna and went off to find Johnny and Ben and do away with them. (And we saw how well that went, didn’t we?) Rachna’s next visitor was the Mole Man, asking for the power to control monsters—which Rachna didn’t give him, no longer having the stomach to trade super-powers to shady customers for money. (Remember, one of her past clients was Hydro-Man—not exactly a sterling character.) Furious at Rachna’s refusal to do business with him, the Mole Man swore revenge—which Rachna realizes he plans to exact upon her hospitalized, comatose sister!
However, when the Mole Man arrives at Rachna’s sister’s bedside, foul play on his mind, Mr. Fantastic gets the drop on him. Reed and the Thing were on their way to help Sue and Johnny when they saw the subterranean scoundrel entering the hospital. The Mole Man is quickly subdued, and Rachna’s contrition over betraying Johnny and Ben moves Johnny to compassion for her, as he sees that Rachna, like him, would do anything for family.
In the end, Johnny forgives everyone. He forgives Rachna for tricking him and Ben into taking her across the Multiverse on a search for a new body for her sister. He forgives Reed and Sue. And he forgives Ben, telling him they all must work on trusting each other better. In the end, the reunited Fantastic Four meet on the roof of their new home with mugs of hot cocoa, looking forward to the future and whatever new adventures it brings. And so ends Marvel 2-in-One.
The theme of this issue was “healing” and “mending.” Johnny Storm’s relationships with his sister, brother-in-law, and surrogate brother needed mending. Rachna’s sister, still comatose at the end, needed healing, and Reed of course has promised to do everything in his considerable power to bring her back, because that’s what Reed Richards does. He sees something broken and tries to fix it. He sees something that could be better and tries to make it so. He seems a problem and looks for a solution. That’s why other super-heroes in trouble run to the Fantastic Four, because there is Reed.
All things considered, this issue wraps up Marvel 2-in-One pretty neatly, except I’m not quite sure I understand why the book needed wrapping up unless Marvel intended it to be merely a placeholder for the return of The Fantastic Four, which is now a fait accompli. My understanding of the way Marvel works these days is that they like things to be “franchises,” and The Fantastic Four and Marvel 2-in-One together would constitute a franchise, however small. On the strength of Chip Zdarsky’s writing alone, this book could have gone on longer, with more adventures for Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm with other heroes of the Marvel Universe, and possibly Reed and Sue thrown in for a good mix.
Well, I don’t pretend to understand Marvel’s thinking on the matter. However, as a last word on the artwork, I’ve hung on with artist Ramon Perez and seen an improvement in the way he does everything except the Torch when he’s flamed-on! I don’t know what it is about Johnny’s powers that are so difficult for such a progressively improving artist to master, but I’m sorry to say Marvel should think twice before letting him anywhere near the FF again unless he makes some major advances on his rendition of the blazing Torch. He does fine with Johnny when his powers are off. It’s when Johnny’s powers are on that’s the problem, and I wish he’d come further with it than he has in the last few months.
The twelve issues of Marvel 2-in-One, on the whole, have been solidly entertaining, and you could make a convincing argument for the first six issues being a pretty good adventure of the Fantastic Four, even though its lead characters were only half of the FF. Nevertheless, if all that Marvel wanted out of this book was to prepare the way for the revival of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine,” they got what they were looking for. Now we can all go back to watching the further exploits of the Thing and the Human Torch every month in The Fantastic Four.
There’s not much more to say about Marvel 2-in-One. Writer Chip Zdarsky is to be commended for his understanding of the Fantastic Four and the way its characters work. Of the artists who have worked with him on these twelves issues, Jim Cheung did the most stellar job and it’s regrettable that we didn’t get to see more of it. Last year at this time, this book held out the tantalizing promise of the return of the Fantastic Four, and it’s gratifying to see that Marvel has delivered on that promise.
Marvel 2-in-One #12: Notes From the Underground
Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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