Ben Grimm is having nightmares.
Seated by a rear window, new wife Alicia Masters has something else on her mind.
As the bad dreams continue, Alicia brings her sculpting skills to bear on Ben’s fears.
And the hero decides to bring in a specialist.
I hadn’t heard this one-off was coming, but when I saw the cover by illustrator Ron Garney and colour artist Matt Milla, I couldn’t resist. The composition, the finish, the choice and application of tones (including the throwback Benday dots), just wonderful.
The credits read ‘Ron Garney and Gerry Duggan, storytellers’ which strongly implies it’s the former who’s the driving force here, with writer Duggan providing the words. That makes sense because while this issue has some lovely script moments – the relationship between newlyweds Ben and Alicia is a delight, give me a Mr and Mrs Thing book now – this really is an artist’s showcase.
Garney is a veteran storyteller, so it’s no surprise that the narrative is clear throughout; what’s especially worthy of comment is the imagination of the images. Marvel Comics have featured a lot of stories featuring nightmares over the years, with memorable dream imagery aplenty from the likes of Steve Ditko and Sam Kieth – and Garney’s disturbing depictions of a hellish realm are right up there.
Milla’s sensitive, evocative colours add to the success of the story, grounding it in the everyday scenes, heightening the emotional drama as we hit full-on phantasmagoria.
The ever-reliable letterer Joe Caramagna is on hand, providing us with some rather brilliant rocky narrative boxes for Ben (and if that’s the production department rather than Joe, well done!).
The high fantasy aspects of this issue came as a surprise given the title and cover, but Garney and Duggan don’t stint on the requirements of the Noir genre, giving us the dame in need of rescue, the troubled hero, the sense of encroaching doom, but filtered through the lens of a superhero universe. And inky pages peppered by ceiling fans and shuttered blinds do feature.
Grimm Noir also acts as a sharp spotlight on the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing, telling us that while his personal life is probably better than it’s ever been, some pain never really goes away.
Edited by Shannon Andrews Ballesteros and Alanna Smith, this is a satisfying read and a visual treat, my favourite Thing story in years.