BY MATT TUCK
The First Family of Marvel will be getting an MCU makeover in the near future, and the breakout star could very well be The Thing. Don’t feel like selling a kidney for FF #1? Opt for his solo adventures instead.
For nearly three decades, The Thing was the standout character in Marvel’s flagship Fantastic Four title. Their collective star has faded over the past 20-30 years, but the upcoming Marvel movie should reinvent them for a new generation. That will have The Thing poised to become a huge star once again.
THE FF’S PLACE IN MARVEL HISTORY
If there is any team of characters in need of Kevin Feige and Marvel Studio to work their magic, it’s the Fantastic Four.
There was a time when The Thing was arguably Marvel Comics’ most popular superhero. From the onset of Marvel, “the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed” Ben Grim was a major factor in establishing the brand. In the early days, the publisher widely relied on the Fantastic Four’s popularity to keep it afloat. While the FF as a team were the banner carriers for Marvel, it was Thing and Human Torch who earned the biggest individual followings.
Throughout the 1960s, Thing graced the covers of many comics, and not just the FF titles. By the ‘70s, Marvel was ready to give him more starring roles outside the FF, and a decade later, he would find himself in the spotlight of his own ongoing series.
As the 1990s set in, Marvel readers steered more toward the X-Men as the premiere team in comics. Thus, the Fantastic Four’s star began to wane until it completely extinguished in the 2000s as Marvel took the spotlight off those properties whose movie and television rights were controlled by Fox. Lo and behold, once Disney acquired Fox, the Fantastic Four made a triumphant return to the comics.
During his prime, The Thing was a brand all to himself. Besides being a cornerstone of the Fantastic Four, Ben Grim was so popular that Marvel separated him from the FF for a time. History could repeat itself, and fans could once again fall in love with Thing with the proper MCU portrayal. That will inevitably inflate those already-expensive FF keys, but there are other options with strong upsides of their own. Take a look.
Compared to those early Fantastic Four keys, FF #25 is a steal. Granted, prices for all the Silver Age FF issues have basically doubled with the movie announcement, but this one is still within reach. An 8.5 is still selling for less than $2k, and a 5.5 is a $500 comic at the moment.
What makes this issue special is that it featured the first battle between Thing and Hulk. They had previously met in FF #12, but #25 marked the first throwdown mano y mano. Remember that in the ‘60s and ‘70s, those Thing and Hulk fights were hugely popular, and it is why these two would be paired so frequently well into the 1990s. Odds are, we will see the two clash in the MCU, which will make this an especially great issue to own.
In the Silver Age, Marvel began having Thing and Johnny Storm branch away from the FF with some team-up stories. By 1973, Len Wein would pen the first story featuring The Thing sans the family. Not surprisingly, he was once again paired with his famous nemesis, the Hulk.
This is one seriously undervalued comic. The only grade to sell in August was an 8.0, and it went for just $110.
After the huge success of the Wolverine limited series a year earlier, Marvel tried giving another famous teammate a chance to fly solo. In 1983, the first self-title Thing comic hit the stands, and it proved that Ben Grim is capable of carrying his own title. Head over to eBay, and you can have a copy of your very own for about $10-$20.
Just as The Thing shined bright in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the MCU will put him back in the mainstream limelight. With prices for his solo comics relatively cheap, this is a great time to roll the dice on the “Ever-Lovin’, Blue-Eyed” Thing.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.