THING CLASSIC VOL. 1 (Marvel, 2011; Softcover)
Collects The Thing Nos. 1-10 (cover dates July, 1983- April, 1984)
Writer: John Byrne
Artists: Ron Wilson (penciler), Hilary Barta (inker), Joe Sinnott (inker, issues 1, 9, and 10) and John Byrne (back-up story pencils, issue 7, inker, issue 2).
I've always considered the Thing to be something of a bit player, part of an ensemble cast rather than the star of the show. He co-headlined Marvel Two-In-One, and as enjoyable as that is, it seldom shifted out of third gear; it was always good but seldom great, or even very good. I picked up several issues of his solo title off of the stands back in the day, but none of the 10 issues collected in this book. Like the old NBC re-run ad campaign, since I haven't
read it, it's new to me.
Byrne could have easily gone for a Hulk-tinged slugfest theme for this series. The Thing easily lends himself to such all-out action. What we have here is a precursor to modern comic book style storytelling, with the emphasis being on the man instead of the monster. The series starts out with a whimper, filling in a lot of backstory and recaps in the first issue. I wouldn't think that this was the ideal way to launch a new series of a superhero title. Issue 2 is another quiet, character driven tale.
Issues 3 and 4 are the infamous Lockjaw-is-not-a-dog Byrne Inhumans ret-con. This is much derided by fandom at large. There is some action in these issues, and the title begins to take on more of a superhero comic feel without sacrificing the character development seen with Ben Grimm's personal life. Issues 5 and 6 feature the Puppet Master, who uses his radioactive clay to manipulate various heroes into fighting the Thing. The whole superhero fights a superhero, wait, it's a misunderstanding that everyone badmouths but I love anyhow.
Issue 7 was one of those offbeat Assistant Editor's Month issues, where every Marvel title did an offbeat story. I can't think of a single one of these that I enjoyed. The villain in this is Goody Two-Shoes, who is quite possibly the worst villain ever to grace the pages of a comic book. I of course realize that he was supposed to be a caricature, but the sheer suckitude of those AEM issues probably lost countless readers. First time readers would surely be put off by this lame issue. Issue 10 ends with The Thing, Mister Fantastic, and the Human Torch entering the Beyonder's construct in Central Park that led into the Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars maxi-series.
Part of the problem with these first ten issues is that the Fantastic Four are featured throughout the series, albeit in cameo or bit parts. It feels like the Thing is sometimes just filling up screen time until his teammates return. While this was an enjoyable read, the shift from an atypical, personal series to a more tried and true superhero title seems a little disjointed. Don't let that dissuade you from buying this book, though. There are enough great character moments, light-hearted humor, and out and out action to please all palates.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Like all modern Classic collections and softcover Marvel Masterworks, this has that glorious dull matte finish coated stock paper. This is the best possible paper for flat/four color printing coloring, in my opinion. This book has the same highly durable wax coated cardstock cover as all Marvel softcovers.
Linework restoration rating: 5 out of 5.
Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5.
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