Posted - November 8, 2015


The Thing Marvel Two-In-One 64 t0 66:
Stingray, Triton, Scarlet Witch



Marvel Two-In-One 64 to 66

These three issues of Marvel Two-In-One are collectively known as the Serpent Crown Affair.

This begs the question: What is the Serpent Crown?

The Serpent Crown is a Marvel power object that is linked to a multidimensional Serpent entity or Serpent God.


Multidimensional serpent god

Like the Infinity Gauntlet, there is one Serpent Crown for each dimension or universe. In this story there are two Serpent Crowns - our own and another one brought to this dimension by the Avengers. One of the crowns has already corrupted the president of Marvel's pre-eminent oil company - Roxxon.


Hugh Jones, the head of Roxxon, wearing the Serpent Crown

Typical of a power object, the Serpent Crown appears to be indestructible - surviving bashings from the Thing for example. Apart from that, the crown demonstrates a variety of powers such as telepathy, and the ability to manipulate the astral self as is being done here to Scarlet Witch:


Scarlet Witch being attacked by the Serpent Crown

The astral self is thrown to the "space between worlds".



Another baffling effect demonstrated is the Crown being able to temporarily revert the Thing into Ben Grimm.


The Serpent Crown changes the Thing into Ben Grimm

On the more physical front, the Serpent Crown can also do this:


The Congress of the Crowns


It can create dopplegangers of everybody that has ever worn the crown. These doubles are fully under the crown wearer's control. More than that, they possess the powers and abilities of the originals.

As mentioned, the head of Roxxon already has one Serpent Crown. Now he is on a quest to obtain the other one the location of which he has identified as the bottom of the ocean somewhere off the California coast. In order to dredge the crown, the head of Roxxon has formed the Serpent Squad.

fantastic four comics


The Serpent Squad

This is actually the second such group to bear the name. Let's go through this four individuals and what they can do.


The Serpent Squad: Anaconda

Anaconda is the strongman, or rather, strong woman, of the group. Her arms have been genetically modified to act like her namesake - able to crush a foe with deadly force.


The Serpent Squad: Black Mamba

Black Mamba has a huge snake, and it is, of course, useful but her primary power stems from the classic myth of the hypnotic serpent. Black Mamba is a seductress able to seduce her foes into paralysis. She typically drops her foe's defenses so her teammates can come in and deal their deadly blows.


The Serpent Squad: Death Adder

Speaking of deadly blows, few are deadlier than Death Adder's. His claws are poison. One touch and it's game over.


The Serpent Squad: Sidewinder

The leader of the team is the hyper-ugly Sidewinder. Like the Vanisher, Sidewinder is able to teleport short distances.

Together with the Serpent Squad the head of Roxxon has also constructed this:


A Roxxon oil rig

It looks like an oil rig but it isn't. This is a massive dredge built to mine the sea floor and recover the Serpent Crown.

The plan is solid, the team is formidable, but Murphy's Law applies. And so it happens that flying overhead in the Fantastic Four Pogo plane are these three:


The Thing, Stingray, and a doctor in the Fantastic Four Pogo Plane

To the left of the Thing is Walter Newell, also known as Stingray. He looks like this.


Stingray

I've always loved this costume design. That said, Mr. Newell, isn't a superhero. He's a scientist specializing in the deep ocean. The Stingray "costume" is actually a specialized suit designed by him to aid in his research. Being knowledgeable in matters related to the sea, Walter Newell quickly notes the baffling presence of a Roxxon oil rig in an area of the ocean with no oil reserves. They head on down to investigate and thus do the head of Roxxon's plans begin to unravel.

First, there is a deep see explosion (caused by the Serpent Squad) that threatens to tip the oil rig. This gives us an awesome shot of the power of the Thing being used to brace an entire oil rig.


The Thing braces an oil rig

At the same time, Stingray goes under the waves to ascertain the cause of the explosion not knowing that he is heading directly to the arms of Roxxon's undersea guards and the Serpent Squad. The guards are the first to assail Stingray giving us a demonstration of his electric blasts.


The Stingray uses his electric blast

Obviously a defense feature necessary in the Ocean depths. Next we get a demonstration of augmented strength courtesy of the suit's exoskeleton.


The Stingray punching an attacker

For a "non-professional" Stingray is doing very well indeed but his streak ends when he encounters the Serpent Squad. Stingray is literally thrown out of the sea.


Stingray is thrown from the sea and caught by the Thing

On the oil rig, the Thing is being attacked by a mob of Roxxon flunkies. Nothing for the Thing but still wonderful to look at.


The Thing fighting off a bunch of goons

With that, the Serpent Squad very brusquely introduce themselves to the Thing and Anaconda shows us her power.


Anaconda punches the Thing

Good luck with stopping the Thing through brute strength though, it can't be done - and the Serpent Squad knows it. They hold Stingray hostage and maneuver the situation to a stage that the Thing would most definitely label as a "Revoltin' development". Cue the visual:


The Thing and Stingray chained to an oil rig

Terrible. If the Thing uses his strength to try and free himself he'll tear the arms off Stingray. What follows next is the most intense part of the tale as Ben painfully shimmies down the metal beam underwater.


The Thing trapped under water

This is made deadly by the fact that the air-breathing Thing has to hold his breath the whole time. The beam descent feels like hours but finally:


The Thing escapes from an underwater trap

Back on the rig we have the not-so-timely arrival of Triton.


Triton

Triton of the Inhumans. The last time I saw him was in the pages of Civil War: Black Panther. By that time, the Inhumans have already relocated to the Moon and Triton was bemoaning the loss of the oceans of Earth, having to make do with flooded Moon caverns. Nice to see him swimmming free during the good old days.

With that, the trio dive in and take the battle to the foe and underneath the waves - the Thing using a breathing device.

Unlike the scientist Stingray, Triton is a seasoned fighter. His is the first attack and what a salvo it is.


Triton attacks the Serpent Squad part the first
Triton attacks the Serpent Squad part the second

Ben has identified the poisonous Death Adder as a priority.


The Thing punches Death Adder

Unfortunately, the Thing finds himself in a literal bind as Anaconda moves in and Black Mamba uses her seductive power.


Black Mamba uses her power on the Thing

In his mind's eye Ben sees (and feels) Alicia naked and doing some crazy things to a orange pile of rocks.

It is a fitting moment for Stingray to get his revenge.


Stingray hits the Serpent Squad with an electric blast

I love it when great looking armor packs in solid "horsepower".

The whole thing ends with the Serpent Squad routed and apparently lost in an undersea rockslide. All except for the teleporting Sidewinder, and he has the Serpent Crown. Ben has been around long enough to know that a power object on the loose simply cannot be ignored. Years of the "hero business" has taught Ben Grimm when to go it alone and when to ask for help, so he quickly calls the Baxter Building via the Pogo plane's communication equipment. The building has only one adult occupant.


The Thing contacts Agatha Harkness

The witch Agatha Harkness. I'm sure what Ben has in mind was to call in the FF but in this situation he is compelled to rely on Agatha Harkness' network. So Agatha gives a quick mystical call to someone familiar with the Serpent Crown.


Agatha Harkness contacts Scarlet Witch

The Scarlet Witch

Wonderful costume aside I'm baffled by the supposed teacher-apprentice link between Harkness and Wanda. Harkness is a real witch, Wanda isn't. That's just her "superhero name" - she's really a mutant and has nothing to do with the occult. Oh well, let's ride the train anyway . . .

So Wanda - presumably through the use of her hex power - quickly locates the Serpent Crown and our heroes head off in pursuit. Heroes being the Thing, Stingray and Scarlet Witch. They come upon their foe already in possession of both Serpent Crowns and brace themselves for a potentially difficult fight.

Hugh Jones, possessor of the Serpent Crown, unleashes his doppleganger minions which he calls the Congress of the Crowns. For a moment both Stingray and Ben look to be overwhelmed.


Stingray and the Thing overwhelmed by foes

But then the Thing remembers what time it is.


It's clobberin' time

The most difficult feat is reserved for Wanda as she wrestles with the Serpent Crown itself. It is a battle fought in the outer realms a battle of inches in which Wanda does just enough for Ben to do this.


Ben Grimm manages to get the Serpent Crown off Hugh Jone's head

With that, Ben reverts back to the Thing. Here he is shown carrying the Crowns.


Stingray, the Thing, and the Scarlet Witch plus Hugh Jones and a secured Serpent Crown

And that is the end of this Marvel-Two-In-One three-in-one. The Serpent Crown Affair.





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