MARVEL 2-IN-ONE #8
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Penciler: Ramon K. Perez
Inker: Ramon K. Perez
Cover Artists: Jay Anacleto and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Colorist: Federico Blee
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Fantastic Four #1 is next week! But in the meantime Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm are bereft of their loved ones, their powers, and their home. How will they get from here to the reunion of the Fantastic Four—especially with some other painful truths yet to be said?
What You Need to Know:
Their escape from the Thunderdome-like “Battleworld” in our last issue left the Thing and the Torch stranded on the post-apocalyptic alternate world when Rachna bugged out on them and Dr. Doom followed her back into the Multiverse. Now, with Ben’s strength and rocky hide and Johnny’s flame completely eroded away because of the entanglement of the Fantastic Four’s powers and the long-term absence of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, Ben and Johnny carve out a hard-scrabble life for themselves where they are, with no prospect of ever seeing home again.
What You’ll Find Out:
“Dan” and his younger brother “Jimmy” are the identities that Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm have assumed, living incognito in the alternate world left in a shambles by the super-hero Civil War. They’re not having an easy time of it. Johnny, in particular, keeps getting burned at the kitchen stove because he has lost the invulnerability to fire that was a natural adaptation to his former powers. They’re both worried about being found by the lunatic alternate Spider-Man who runs Battleworld, from whom they escaped. And they have this world’s version of boy genius Amadeus Cho scanning alternate universes for them, still looking for any sign of Reed and Sue Richards. Which brings us to the elephant that’s been sitting in the room since the beginning of this series: Ben still hasn’t told Johnny that Reed and Sue are dead. We know they’re not, but Ben doesn’t; as far as he knows, the Richardses are really, truly gone. He’s been leading Johnny from one universe to another in a bogus and futile search for them to keep up Johnny’s morale against his grief over losing both them and his powers.
Like all big lies, this one cannot go on forever. When Ben makes the mistake of also asking Amadeus to search for the Avengers, and Amadeus lets it slip to Johnny on the phone, the jig is up. Furious with Ben over his not telling him the “truth”—which, remember, we know isn’t true, but Ben doesn’t—about Reed and Sue, Johnny actually cracks Ben across the jaw, and their ensuing brawl accidentally and ironically sets fire to the house where they’ve been staying. Johnny runs back into the house to retrieve the only thing they have that he values—a photo of the Fantastic Four together in happier times—before it burns up, and Ben dashes in after him to rescue Johnny before he burns up. Now Johnny must grieve for his sister, nephew, niece, and brother-in-law all over again; Ben must get them through this terrible rift in their friendship; they’re still stranded in this world where they don’t belong—and, oh yes, Margot, the lady at the diner who’s sweet on Ben, has some surprising new customers first thing the next morning—visitors from “our” world. Who should show up at her door bright and early but the madder-than-ever Mad Thinker and his all-new, evil Fantastic Four? Now how did they get here, what are their powers, and how will they make things even worse for poor Johnny and Ben?
What Just Happened?
Basically, what just happened is payoff—the payoff of the lie (which is really the truth, but Ben doesn’t know that) that Ben told Johnny to get the series started. This has been a case of someone doing the wrong thing for the right reason. Johnny was taking reckless, dangerous chances because of the attrition of his powers, and Ben wanted to motivate him to go on living. That’s what has driven our entire story to this point, but we knew from the outset that this would come to no good.
A particularly good character point for this issue is Johnny just not being used to being vulnerable to fire in the absence of his powers. His bandages and burns make a good metaphor for his emotional state, especially in the last scenes. Symbolically, this was very well thought out.
Final Thought: Where did they find artist Ramon Perez, how long can they keep him on this book, and is there any possibility that they can get him on the actual Fantastic Four book? His work looked promising last issue and it’s looking better this issue. I’m almost beginning to think this is an artist we should be keeping our eyes on.
And speaking of The Fantastic Four, as I write this, the release of the latest relaunch of the original Marvel comic book is exactly eight days away. The unresolved plot threads of Marvel 2-in-One are not going to be worked out to coincide with FF #1, so we’re going to see some overlap between the playing-out of this storyline and the reconstruction of the Fantastic Four. The good news is that it is getting underway, and by the time Marvel 2-in-One #11 (for which the cover has already been released) rolls around, we’ll actually see the Thing and “our” Mr. Fantastic back together again. I am already preparing copious remarks for the return of the Fantastic Four and I haven’t even read the new issue #1 yet, so we’ll all just have to look forward to that.
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