web stats

CSBG Archive

Top Five Most Iconic Thing Covers

Here are my picks for the top five most iconic covers featuring Thing (with iconic being determined by what covers are most established and most recognized when it comes to Thing, with a preference towards covers that are homaged a lot). This is not a BEST cover list and due to the very nature of icons, very few (if any) recent covers will be on the list. A notable exception to the rules is that I don’t count covers from a character’s first appearance (which isn’t applicable to all characters, of course, just those who appeared on the cover of the comic they debuted in), as those tend to be automatically iconic so they’re boring. Here‘s a list of all characters featured so far.

First off, while I’m exempting first appearance covers from the countdown, it’s only fair, I suppose, to share them here before the countdown begins, so here is the first cover appearance of the Thing from his debut story, Fantastic Four #1…

Artist: Jack Kirby

Of all the characters featured, I think this is probably the one with the oddest covers for the list, in the sense that Jack Kirby was usually so good with having the covers shared on the Fantastic Four that he really very rarely had covers that spotlighted the Thing, and the ones that did usually came more towards the latter half of the Kirby/Lee run (the less iconic phase of the run), so the Thing ends up with a shocking lack of iconic Kirby covers.


Artist: Ron Wilson

I guess it makes some sense that Thing’s own title would be well represented. This was a very iconic Thing story.


Artist: John Byrne

An iconic shot by an iconic Fantastic Four artist!


Artist: John Buscema

Of all the Thing/Hulk covers, I think this Buscema one is the most iconic from the Thing’s perspective (I think FF #12 might be more iconic from the Hulk’s perspective – the Starlin/Wrightson graphic novel was big, but Wrightson’s cover was one of the weakest aspect of that book).


Artist: Ron Wilson

Wilson really captures the Thing beautifully here, no?

One of the most homaged Thing covers.


Artist: Jack Kirby

This one would be the most homaged, though (and yes, technically that’s not the Thing on the cover).


I’m just curious, what does the “Ind.” on the upper-left hand corner of the cover of Fantastic Four # 1 mean?

Presumably that it was distributed by Independent News Distribution (which was owned by DC at the time).

The irony of picking FF #51 as the most iconic Thing cover is, of course, that it’s not the Thing at all, but a nameless imposter!

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

September 21, 2009 at 8:40 am

I have to admit that I have literally never thought of FF #350 when considering the Thing, mainly because I don’t share most of the fandom’s love of the Simonson FF.

Hehe, I beat ya to it, Mike! :)

I have to admit that I have literally never thought of FF #350 when considering the Thing, mainly because I don’t share most of the fandom’s love of the Simonson FF.

It’s okay! You have many other fine attributes! :)

I’m not really sure how you left out Thing #8 from his 2006 series. Great cover. Any fan of the Thing knows how often his poker games have been referenced through the years.

I’ve also always loved Marvel Two-in-One #1.

what about that MTU cover where there’s a shadow of a head with long pointed ears cast over the thing and he sez something like, “aw no, not you.” basically it was a tease to make you think he was teaming up with batman. first cover i thought of when i saw this topic.

I though Marvel Two-In-One #50 would have made this list. Oh well.

I though Marvel Two-In-One #50 would have made this list. Oh well.

It was on the short list! #100, as well!

I didn’t mean to suggest that they’re not all good (and perfectly valid) choices. :)

I agree with everything except the Walt Simonson cover. Love Simonson and his run, but in my opinion I think there are way more well-known famous Thing covers ahead of it. Far as I know many people didn’t even read Simonson’s run as FF was not very hot during that time, so I can’t imagine Simonson’s covers being that well known.

Some of the MTIO choices mentioned earlier in the comments for example, as well as this Byrne one:

I’ll suggest that the creature on #51 is indeed “The Thing”, or at least “a” Thing. If you read the story, Ben Grimm was not The Thing at the time. He reverted back to human form when the antagonist stole his powers. Given that the eratz Thing saved Reed Richard’s life in a very Thing-like moment, I think we can truly say that he was indeed The Thing at that particular slice of time.

That’s a very fair point, Paul!

I’ll let the fans pick it between Simonson and Byrne, they’re both basically the same cover, so I’ll let folks pick which one they want!

Omar! How can you not like Simonson’s FF? They fight Robo-Stalin!

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

September 21, 2009 at 10:16 am

I’m not really arguing about what should or shouldn’t be on the list, just personally reacting. For whatever reason, I love Simonson’s Thor but have a lot less affection for his FF run. I know it’s good on the merits, but I don’t have the same visceral enjoyment of it the way a lot of people seem to.

How do you mean they are basically the same cover? Sure he’s punching through at the reader in both of them, but it’s a little bit of a stretch to call them the same.

They’re both prominent “the Thing is back!” covers which came towards the end of iconic FF runs.

Ah, fair enough. That makes a lot more sense. I thought you meant design wise.

Did the monster on the cover of issue #1 tie Reed up using ropes?

The one that popped into my head was Barry Windsor-Smith’s cover of Marvel Fanfare #15. More of a portrait than an action pose, it does include Ben’s stogie. Does he still smoke in the comic?

I love Simonson. In just about any Simonson VS Byrne competition, I’d take Simonson.

But not this one.

I’m surprised at the closeness of the Simonson/Byrne match – usually these things are blow-outs one way or the other. I guess they’re pretty evenly matched!

Wait, is this comments thread where we vote between those two covers? I was waiting for you to do a separate thread like you did for some of the other tiebreaker votes.

In that case, let me enter my vote now for Byrne.

There’s a poll in the piece, T.

Oh okay, I see it now.

I read a piece and go on with my life and the next time I check it’s all changed with a poll in it and everything! And Brian, yes, I did not see you beat me to it…

Anyway, I knew someone would make the argument the villain *was* the Thing, since he swapped places and ends up making the ultimate sacrifice. But I would say not quite, on the cover. I see Kirby doing two things (no pun intended!) with this cover.

To us, the kid browsing at the news stand, we’re going “Wow! What’s wrong? Why isn’t the Thing saving Mr. Fantastic?” and getting sucked into the story, digging the change from our pockets.

But in the context of the story, this is the exact moment where the impostor is torn by his own fate. Is he a man who will help his fellow man? Or is he a selfish monster?

I would say this cover doesn’t depict him as the Thing. It is the precise moment this nameless character turns into The Thing.

I think the Byrne cover is better-known, but Simonson is so much better — that issue (and #352) are so far beyond almost everything that Byrne did with FF that it’s almost laughable.

The Crazed Spruce

September 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I loved Simonson’s run on FF (again, people, ROBOT JOSEPH STALIN!), but the Byrne cover was definitely more iconic.

Roman – gotta say I strongly disagree with you on that. The Byrne FF run was pure class from beginning to end. Whereas, in my opinion, Simonson’s run was just OK – the best issues were with Art Adams on art.

Each to their own I guess.

Regarding the vote – my general rule of thumb is “If one choice hits 60% after 200 votes have been cast then that’s enough for me to call it.” We’re not yet there – but it’s getting close!

I love both the Byrne and Simonson FF, but don’t see any real reason to consider Byrne’s run laughable in comparison to Simonson’s.

They were both good in very different ways. Byrne’s take seems much more family drama with strong emphasis on characterization , whereas Simonson’s seems very surface , high concept action movie.
It was a real downer to have both great runs followed by very bland, sterile periods.

BTW: Both covers seem kinda cluttered. My favorite Thing covers would be


Marvel Two-In-One/The Thing provided some great covers. I agree that FF #51 remains the most iconic though, even though it’s not really Ben nor is he clobbering anybody.

was going to be surprised if the cover of this man this monster did not meet the list also love the thing duking it out with the hulk

That Wilson Thing 6 cover is great, and was one of the comics in the first set of Marvel Comics that my Dad ever bought home for us (UXM 176, MTU ??? Spider Man & Wonder Man, Peter Parker 85, Alpha Flight 5, Hulk 290 and Rom 49)

I think the high points of Byrne’s run were better than the high points of Simonson’s, but the low points of Byrne’s run (especially Torch sleeping with Alicia, for example) were REALLY low.

I had no idea that ‘This Man This Monster’ wasn’t the real thing. I’ve never read it, obviously, but I’ve seen it a lot.
I think the Byrne is much more iconic than the Simonson. For one thing, I’ve never seen that Simonson cover until now, but I’ve seen that Byrne reproduced a lot.
I’ve only read one of the Simonson issues, the one where they defeat Robot Stalin. I don’t see the appeal at all. I thought the story was stupid, and Walt’s art was the worst I’ve ever seen from him, worse even than his X-Factor. (Was he only good on Thor?)

Although I voted for the Simonson one, I have to say, I’d prob revote for the Byrne one, if only for having the Thing’s catch phrase. I’m surprised there aren’t any other iconic covers Brian picked with it.

The Simonson run is a lot of fun, it’s goofy at points, but that only adds to it. I have fond memories of it and have re-read it a few times, it holds up pretty well. I’d recommend it. Of course part of it’s charm was that it came on the heels of several blah years for the FF.
So in comparison it seemed really fresh and exciting.

I’d argue that Simonson has been good on any number of titles. He’s never been one of my all time favorites, but he never seems to really drop the ball either. A book’s gonna be at least pretty good (if not great!) if he’s attached to it.

I haven’t read Orion yet, but I’ve only heard good things about it.

LouReedRichards pointed this out already but I have to second it- not only is Byrnes cover for FF 263 extremely iconic, its also a better image than the Simonson and Byrne ones in contention for the spot.

As for my favorite? the Ron Wilson- its a much different tone for the Thing, beautifully alludes to the goings on in the story, and its a wonderful juxtaposition of the inherent cuteness and monstrosity paradox of The Thing.

I remember being thrilled at the announcement that Simonson was taking over FF, as I’d loved his Thor so much; when it actually happened, I found it a massive disappointment.
It’s funny, it was Robo-Stalin that finally got me to the “OK, I can’t pretend this is fine just because of how much I’ve liked the guy’s previous output” point.
I’ve got to say, though, I’d rate FF’s 66, 107, 143 and 168 over pretty much everything below #1 here, with #5 being the one I’d disagree with most strongly; that issue of Two-In-One represents a real low-point era in that book’s history.

I have to second the nomination of the Barry Windsor Smith cover from Marvel Fanfare. I also have to say I have a fondness for the cover of FF#60. This is the Thing we admire… head down and slugging it out with Doom… like Ali and Frazier..

I’m sad John Byrne’s first issue of The Thing hasn’t been mentioned. I like that one.

I completely agree that FF #51 is iconic and deserving of its #1 place on the list, but could someone give me some examples as to where this cover has actually been paid homage by other artists? The only homage covers that comes to mind is Suydam’s zombie-fied version and “Stan Lee Meets the Thing,” but both of those are very recent and still involve using the Thing as the cover’s subject. Are there any older examples or examples where the homage cover doesn’t involve the Thing at all? Just curious…

Also, aside from Marvel 2-in-1 and his solo series, the Things also appeared a bit in Strange Tales alongside the Human Torch, and this is definitely one of my favorite covers from that run (Strange Tales #116):

I had to go with the Byrne cover. Despite the fact that I think the Simonson one is actually a much better cover, I’ve never seen it before.

Simonson FF all the way. To paraphrase the great Chris Sims, if the phrase “hooking up Thor’s hammer to Iron Man’s armour to power a time sled to go help Galactus fight the Black Celestial” doesn’t get you excited, you are dead from the neck up.

The Simonson evokes the Thing better than the Byrne one. His has the Thing charging into battle and Byrne’s has the Thing doing an imitation of Superman.

Simonson’s issue #352 is still one of my favorites, and just about the only time that working the cover into a comic has worked for me. It is one of the most inventive comics i’ve ever read. Great stuff and i’m a sucker for Reed Vs. Doom!

I love Simonson, and that cover is good, but I voted Byrne’s (also good!) cover because of the horrible Coca-Cola pun on #350.

“I’d argue that Simonson has been good on any number of titles. He’s never been one of my all time favorites, but he never seems to really drop the ball either. A book’s gonna be at least pretty good (if not great!) if he’s attached to it.”

His Avengers work isn’t…quite up to par with his other work. Might have been mandated editorially, but the decline on that title definitely started during his run.

It’s maybe a bit dated looking now but I think Two in One 98 really captured the time it came out in. Just gotta love Ben’s dopey looking jaw as he concentrates on the video game.



You’re absolutely right about the Avengers run. I forgot about those issues. I didn’t follow it closely, but the issues I did pick up were pretty so-so. Part of my problem with it was the sub-par art from the once great team of Buscema and Palmer. It just felt a little too phoned-in (to me at least, I know many people love it). But yeah, not a spectacular run.

It wasn’t just the art, the storylines were just lame. Pointlessly killing off Marina, turning Captain Marvel into an incompetent leader, and adding Mr. Fantastic (!), Invisible Woman (!!), and Gilgamesh (!!!) as team members? The first 2 had no place being on the Avengers (if you wanted to add FF members, the Thing or the Torch would’ve been better picks), and Gilgamesh was just such a misfire.

Granted, I don’t remember how much of that Simonson himself wrote, and I understand Mark Gruenwald or someone else wanted Monica to become a loser (can’t have a chick ordering Cap around or being a better leader than him, even though we saw Stern do it well with Cap on a team led by the Wasp) so much that it forced Stern off the title. Not a good period for the Avengers AT ALL.

here’s one that I didn’t even know about until I saw it in my comic shop last week


Fantastic Four #159 is missing from the list. That cover image of the Thing was used on notebooks/folders/other school stuff back around 1976, and was the reason I wanted to start reading Marvel Comics. As a kid, having a monster being the hero was the ultimate in coolness.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives