Marvel Two-In-One Annual No. 1 Their Name Is Legion
After some goings on in the present day Baxter Building with the Human Torch, Ben lands in 1940s New York.
I am enough of a stranger to this City to be unable to tell if this is the location of the Flat Iron building (is it the structure in the background?) or Times Square. Before long, we have the surprise arrival of some Nazi fighter planes. This one being piloted by the deadly Tigershark with a Japanese guest in tow.
Roy Thomas really likes putting in a costumed and villainous pilot in his World War II tales. I distinctly remember the Sky Pirate performing the same role in All-Star Squadron. Well, you know what happens with the Thing when anything is flying - he's reduced to the role of spectator. But the Thing does
meet somebody interesting down there.
An awfully cute John Romita Sr. - legendary artist of Spider-Man (taking over from Steve Ditko) and father of the equally legendary JRJR. And yes, Ben does take his "helmet" off. For a time, the "Thing" was nothing more than a strength-enhancing exoskeleton created by Reed and worn by Ben. Unsurprisingly the "armor" was fractionally weaker than the real Thing. This would only be for a short time; then the cosmic-powered Thing would be back.
With the sighting of the Skyshark, three members of the Liberty Legion are also seen.
Red Raven, Jack Frost, and Blue Diamond taking to the skies to confront Skyshark and the fighters.
On the ground, a woman starts to shed her clothes, much to the consternation of the conservative Thing. A moment more and Miss America takes to the skies - in a decidedly ultra-conservative costume, I might add.
The Thin Man also joins in. Piloting a plane.
I love how accurately the plane controls where rendered in the right panel but I'm disappointed by the way the Thin Man was included in this fight. The guy has a tremendously unique power - he can become paper thin - it should have been showcased. We won't be able to see that if he's manning a cockpit.
Anyway, when the fight begins, we are shown who is the Liberty Legion's powerhouse - it's Miss America.
A close second would be Blue Diamond.
He's just as invincible as Miss America minus the power to fly.
Before this battle begins, there is a panel I particularly like. This one:
The three Legionnaires as they near the Axis fighters. Love the use of perscpective here. We really get an impression that this battle happens at a great height with the landmass almost map-like and the planes flying in formation occupying the middle ground. There is a sense of the vast distances when traversing the atmosphere in this panel. Eerily, even the silence of flight is captured with the static rendition of a dynamic scene. Just wonderful.
Going for an ill-advised - and ridiculous - attempt to catapult himself to the skies using a flagpole, the Thing meets up with two landbound Legionnaires - the Whizzer and the Patriot. The Patriot reminds me of all sorts of people. A while back I mentioned Captain America, now I'm thinking this guy looks like Commander Steel from the All-Star Squadron.
During the course of this adventure some members of the Liberty Legion lose their way and decide to stop at some random farmhouse for directions. Now we get this scene.
That's right. Some people are running around like headless chickens but the wiser set know how to take it slow - really slow. I'd love to be the farmer here if he were talking to any other hero, but since he's talking to Blue Diamond, I'd rather be the Blue. Invincibility is a heck of a power ("go ahead and try to beat me up while I take a nap!). Love the vintage radio.
The "lost Legionnaires" find there way and I notice that this is a very powerful trio - perhaps the most powerful threesome the Liberty Legion can field: Miss America, Blue Diamond and the Whizzer. Another way to look at it is strength, invulnerability, and speed. I wonder why? and suddenly we know. They're coming up against this guy.
Master Man, symbol of the Nazi concept of the "superior Aryan race". He has super-strength, flight and invulnerability and the ego to match. And before long the battle is joined in a wonderful panel
Did I say something to the effect that our heroes are the most powerful trio possible for the Legion? Fat lot of good that will do them.
Master Man takes care of the Speedster.
Most impressively he takes what Miss America and Blue Diamond can dish out without flinching.
Then he shows them what he can dish out.
Victory: Master Man.
On another mission, from a trio we have a duo: Red Raven and Jack Frost. They come up against this guy.
I'm calling him by his Atlantean name, Merrano, because his super-villain moniker is just too corny. He's known as U-Man. As in U-Boat + Man? Human? It's so corny that I like it a bit. So, Merrano, is a very logical villain to have here. He's an Atlantean - therefore tougher and stronger than the average human. He's a full-blooded Atlantean, therefore his coloring, unlike the mutant Atlantean, Prince Namor, who Merrano has a grievance against. A baffling detail is that Merrano can breath air - Atlanteans typically need a breathing device when walking the "surface world".
Merrano starts things off by slamming into both heroes like they were tenpins.
Red Raven counters with his artificial wings.
That's rough usage of the wings really. Earlier, Red Raven used them to slice through an Axis plane. Considering that these artificial wings don't have an immediate replacement, the Raven is very nonchalant about using them as offensive weapons.
The real problem is that Red Raven has a clunky origin. Raised by bird men and given artificial wings - chances are this origin was inspired by the Bird Men from Flash Gordon stories. A much better origin would be for the Raven to have been kidnapped by extraterrestrials and been subjected to - how did Alan Moore put it? Flesh mechanics. That way, those wings could have been natural extensions of the Raven. Make them self-repairing and extremely tough and there you have it. Plus, in terms of the Raven's character, he would view himself like a "freak" and have that to wrestle with to give his tales more drama - sort of like Ben when he was still the real Thing (pun intended). Just saying.
Going back to the melee, Merrano counters with a well placed stone block to the chest. Ouch!
Jack Frost makes a last ditch effort to stop Merrano by converting the place to a large skating rink but no go.
Remember how I told you that the Thing's idea to use a flagpole as a catapult was the definition of stupid? It still is - even though it works.
I can overlook the flagpole stupidity mainly because there is something far stupider, literally, coming over the horizon.
You have got to be kidding me. Now if you're going to do something this bad might as well push it all the way. So how can we put the cherry on top of the crap sundae that is a flying swastika? This is how.
Have an effing living brain piloting it. The cheese-o-meter has long since redlined and everything has exploded on our faces but can we push this travesty still farther? Sure. Give the displaced brain the name "Brain Drain". And now we are all dead of total cheese overload, ladies and gentlemen. Can dead people still be hit? Apparently so, with this last piece of insanity.
Have Brain Drain escape so he can potentially be part of another future story. Omigod!
Anyway, that flying swastika goes down. Benjy takes care of it.
Just a little recap: We've seen the Skyshark foiled in his attack on New York. Both Merrano and Master Man were successful against separate Liberty Legion teams. Now just to remind us who's comic this is we get an excellent panel.
Apparently it's going to be all of these villains against the mighty-muscled Thing. Go Ben!
First blood to the bad guys: Point blank gun shot and Atlantean punch.
This is the Thing fools!
The Thing takes a couple more hits but just then the Liberty Legion comes in and the Axis powers are simply overwhelmed. I particularly like the Whizzer vs. Master Man rematch panel.