It’s a while since Ben Grimm has had a solo title, but he’s back for a mini-series courtesy of noted novelist Walter Mosley, illustrator Tom Reilly and colour artist Jordie Bellaire. And it’s a rewarding read, as the ever-loving, blue-eyed Thing has a pretty bad day.
It begins with him returning from a fishing trip to find the rest of the Fantastic Four off on their separate business, and fiancée Alicia with another guy. It’s all perfectly innocent, but as Ben is the first to admit, he’s a bit of a hothead.
Ah yes, that Death-like figure… it’s been stalking the streets of New York and seems to be interested in Ben. Which may be why our hero is having such terrible luck, some of which sees him imprisoned with an old pal.
And things just keep getting weirder.
While many novelists find the move to comics a tough transition, supplying poorly paced, super-wordy scripts, there’s no such problem here. Mosley’s script is tight, giving us everything we need in terms of character to move the story along. Ben and co are on classic form – this six-parter is set a few years in the past – while new characters and concepts intrigue. A favourite page sees Ben asked to describe himself and it’s spot on… interestingly, Ben says he’s ‘non-white’, which could be a gag or it could be Mosley pointing out his status as an ‘Other’ even in a world where superhumans aren’t uncommon. And Mosley points up Ben’s intelligence, while letting him make bad decisions, as we all do.
Artist Tom Reilly, who hasn’t many comic credits to his name yet, should get plenty of offers after his excellent work here. From a silent, spooky opening sequence to a classic Marvel cliffhanger, he proves he has the talent to go far. The emotion he gives Ben is perfect as he becomes ever more perplexed, and a dream sequence brings the shivers.
Reilly is partnered with experienced colour artist Jordie Bellaire, and the two complement one another. Look, for example, at how they give us detail and depth during Ben and Alicia’s argument. Bellaire’s choices are especially good in the jail cell sequence, and a twilight scene sets a melancholy mood.
Joe Sabino’s letters are friendly, with the scene-setting font perfect for a Thing book. And Reilly’s cover is unusual and effective, showing Ben breaking loose.
While I’d love a return to Ben in regular team-up action via Marvel Two-in-One, for now this is just the Thing.