Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Every day in May we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!
Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).
Today’s list is the Greatest Thing (Ben Grimm) Stories Ever Told!
Just for the sake of the picky ones among you, I’ll make this list 11 choices (I’ll explain why later)!
11. Marvel Two-in-One #51 “Full House – Dragon’s High!”
This great one-shot, written by Peter Gillis and drawn by Frank Miller (!!), with a cover by George Perez, is an impressive look at how, for quite a long time, Thing basically was the centerpiece of the Marvel Universe. He knew everybody and everybody knew him – heck, they’d all play cards together, for crying out loud!
10. Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #8 “Prisoners of the Puppet Master!”
The first appearance of the Puppet Master, but more importantly, the introduction of the love of Ben Grimm’s life, Alicia Masters!
9. Fantastic Four (Vol. 3) #56 “Remembrances of Things Past”
In this great one-off issue by Karl Kesel (who I still can’t believe has never been given a run on FF) and Stuart Immonen, Ben’s Jewish heritage is explicitly referenced for the first time ever!
8. Marvel Fanfare #15 “That Night….”
It’s a Barry Windsor-Smith written and drawn story featuring the Thing! How could it NOT be awesome?
7. Marvel Two-in-One #50/100 “Remembrances of Things Past!”/”Aftermath”
How funny is it that we have two stories by the same title on the list? In any event, this unique two-parter (unique since it is separated by 50 issues of comics) was the introduction to how awesome John Byrne was as a WRITER as well as an artist! In #50, he has Ben Grimm go back in time trying to cure himself in the past (shockingly, he and Ben from the past don’t get along) and in #100, he returns to the alternate universe to see how things went after the events of #50. Classic stuff. Ron Wilson drew #100 while Byrne wrote them both.
6. Marvel Two-in-One #86 ” Time Runs Like Sand”
In this one-off issue, Ben spends time at a bar with the Sandman as the two share their past and marvel at how much they have in common. This was the beginning of the slow redemption arc that Sandman went on from the early 80s until the late 90s, when he was turned back into a villain. Tom DeFalco wrote it and Ron Wilson drew it.
5. Fantastic Four #38-40 “The Battle for the Baxter Building”
Stan and Jack at their finest in this Daredevil crossover that finishes with an amazing Doom/Thing fight that is so awesome that they even talk about how awesome it is on the cover above!
4. Fantastic Four #25-26 “Everybody vs. the Hulk”
We had an idea of how dogged the Thing was in his determination to hang in there in a fight, but we never had an idea of HOW much determination he had before this epic battle with the Hulk. Completely outclassed, Ben just refused to lay down for the Hulk, no matter what the odds are. Beautiful work by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
3. Marvel Two-in-One #53-58 “The Project Pegasus Saga”
Ralph Macchio and Mark Gruenald wrote this six-parter that featured, amazingly, three issues by John Byrne and three issues by George Perez! Talk about a treat! In this storyline, featuring many guest-stars, the Thing’s old friend, Wundarr, is being treated at Project Pegasus, but an evil scientist is planning to use a experimental black hole generator in a deadly scheme. Can Ben and the heroes of Pegasus stop him? And what role will Wundarr play in all of this? Find out yourself, as the Project Pegasus story is back in print this year from Marvel!
2. Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7 “And They Shall Call Him Champion”
Remember what I said about the Hulk fight from the 4th story on the list? Well, Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson took all the spirit of the story in that fight and turned the dial up a notch to give us the battle between the Thing and the Champion – a being who comes to worlds to destroy them unless someone can beat him in a fight. He chooses a sampling of Earth’s heroes, but only Ben Grimm can stand with him.
1. Fantastic Four #51 “This Man, This Monster”
Here’s why we have 11 choices, for those who don’t wish to count #51 as a “Ben Grimm” story, you can still have a Top 10!
For the rest of you, I presume you all worked under the notion that Jack and Stan’s “This Man, This Monster,” the tale of an anonymous scientist who steals Ben’s powers so that he can kill Reed Richards, only to be so moved by Reed’s selflessness that he sacrifices himself to save Reed’s life, still works as Ben Grimm story because:
A. It is Ben’s goodness that leads to Reed being willing to sacrifice HIMself to save Ben, and if it were not for the Reed/Ben relationship, the scientist would likely not have been so moved. Thus, this impostor showed us how the FF REALLY feels about Ben
B. Likely even more importantly, Ben is IN the comic! He deals with the fact that his mutation is gone and what that means for his life.
But anyways, there you go – something for everyone!
That’s the list! I’m sure there is a lot of agreement and disagreement with the list out there! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!
Be sure to check out all the other Greatest Stories Lists out here!
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