Marvel Two-In-One No. 1 Vengeance of the Molecule Man
It is the beginning of Marvel Two-In-One. This series will forever have a place among my favorite comics because, first of all, it features the Thing. Before Wolverine and Deadpool became breakout stars at Marvel, the Thing was the breakout star - this was around the late seventies and early eighties. The excellence of Marvel Two-In-One was a big part of the Thing's popularity.
Another reason I like this series so much is because it comprises a tour of the Marvel Universe. Since the Thing is partnered with a different Marvel character each issue, we get to see bits and pieces of Marvel lore. History that is still relevant to - and still inspires - the Marvel comics we read today.
So buckle up and let's look at the first issue of Marvel Two-In-One.
The series has an unpromising start with some silly behavior from Ben.
The Thing is mad that the Man-Thing, the Everglades monster, also has the word "Thing" in his name. Ben actually hops on a bus to go to Florida to have it out with the Man-Thing for this "infringement" on his moniker. Later on, we catch Ben thinking that, yes, he's behaving a bit irrationally.
So what's this all about? I think I know. Simple boredom. The Thing doesn't hold a job - he doesn't need to. As a member of the Fantastic Four, all his expenses are covered by Reed Richards. It's not a paltry allowance either - the Four live pretty lavishly. It's a worry free life really. Usually there's some crisis or other, some threat that must be fought. But the Thing is going through unusual days, peaceful days. Boring days. What's a super-strong Thing to do? Pick a fight that's what, and the Man-Thing is as good a candidate as any. So Ben heads off to Florida for some trumped up reason but basically - he's bored.
As the Thing moves to a rendezvous with the Man-Thing, something else is happening somewhere else that will have ramifications on the Thing's trip to Florida. That something concerns this man.
The Molecule Man is one of the most powerful characters in all of Marveldom. Owen Reece has been granted the power of a god - the power to control all non-living matter. As fate would have it, Reece was defeated by the Fantastic Four who quickly have a bit of a problem in there hands. Simply: Having defeated the Molecule Man how do you restrain a being with that kind of power? The solution is pretty elegant: Turn him over to another powerful yet beneficent being.
To restrain the Molecule Man, time itself is employed. Reese is exiled to a unique place:
Molecule Man has lost his power; although temporarily - Reece needs time to get back his terrible control of molecules. Time which he will not have. Time will flow so fast in Reece's place of exile that Reece will grow old and die before he can become the Molecule Man again. And die he does.
With the original Molecule Man gone we have a new one, his son:
Using machinery invented by Reece, his son becomes the new Molecule Man. This one is even more powerful than his father though - this new Molecule Man will be able to affect organic molecules too. This new Molecule Man is also very much weaker than his Father. We will see the terrible "chink in the armor" later. Actually, we'll see it now. Here it is.
Because this new Molecule Man comes from a world (dimension?) where time flows faster he is reliant on that red wand of his. If he let's that thing go he'll age faster than Dorian Gray. This is a significant weakness and I'm very thankful for it - a fully-powered Molecule Man can make mince meat of the Thing.
Speaking of the Thing, he makes it to Florida but his first encounter is not with the shambling Man-Thing but the new Molecule Man out for revenge. The following panels are telling of this encounter.
To the left, the Thing's brute strength. To the right, Molecule Man's mastery of inanimate matter. While all this ruckus is going on, the Man-Thing makes an appearance.
I mentioned the Molecule Man's significant weakness but now we are witness to his significant strength: The ability to affect living matter! Fortunately he is more sadist than killer. Instead of killing both the Thing and Man-Thing he toys with them, he reverts both to human form.
Two humans are nothing to the Molecule Man. He leaves the pair in the swamp and goes on a rampage in a nearby Florida town.
Did I say he wasn't a killer? I was wrong. Witness the ghastly killing of an innocent civilian.
Ben's word's are our own.
Thank heavens that the Molecule Man is drunk with his power and convinced that he is invincible because he makes a fatal mistake - he reverts both Ben Grimm and Ted Sallis back to their monstrous forms. Forms that no longer make them helpless civilians. The battle is on and during the course of it, Molecule Man loses his hold on the all too precious wand!
And so the "curse of time" prevails as the Molecule Man fails to reach his wand in time.
Still, that was a close call. Even this second version of the Molecule Man is very much above Ben's weight class. Whew, the Thing dodged a bullet.