Marvel Two-in-One #53: The Inner War!

Writer: Gruenwald / Macchio
Penciller: Byrne
Inker: Sinnott
Letterer: D. Albers
Colorist: B. Sharen
Editor: R. Stern

The Guest Star:

The Villain:
      Deathlok; Dr. Thomas Lightner

Guest Shots:
      Wundarr; Solarr

The Set Up:
      Ben has come back to Project Pegasus, taking a security position there so as to be able to check up on Wundarr, his former ward. After going through a huge raft of security procedures, he meets the new head of security (Quasar) in the traditional superhero manner- there's a misunderstanding and the two get into a fight. The two are soon on good terms, and Ben is taken to visit Wundarr, who is cattonic and exhibiting strange energy dampening powers.
     Meanwhile, a couple odd things are going on- we see Dr. Thomas Lightner reporting to the "Nth Comman" about the goings on at Pegasus, and we get a subplot of Thundra being introduced to the world of professional wrestling. A little later, we watch as Lightner dismantles some security protocols, letting in next issue's guest star... Deathlok.

Clobberin' Time?:

Petunia's Patch:
      Wow! Two mentions of Petunia in one issue!
     Page 3, panel 4, as Ben is being photographed by security: "Well, save an 8 x 10 glossy for my Aunt Petunia."
     Page 15, panel 4. After meeting Dr. Thomas Lightner again, and getting something akin to the cold shoulder, Ben thinks to himself "Research, huh? If that's all he's been doin', I ain't got an aunt named Petunia."

Things of Interest:
      This is part one of the six-part Project Pegasus saga, which runs from MTIO 53 to MTIO 58. All six issues (plus issue 60) were reprinted in 1988 in trade paperback as The Project Pegasus Saga, which is unfortunately long out of print. It turns up only rarely on EBay, and I haven't seen it anywhere else in years. However, in early 2010 all six issues, plus MTIO 42 and 43, were reprinted as the 37th in the hardback Marvel Premiere Classics line.

     In 2010, the Project: Pegasus Saga was voted as number 3 / 2 in the "Greatest Thing (Ben Grimm) Stories Ever Told!" poll at Comic Book Resources.
     Ben meets Quasar for the first time in this issue, and the two go on to have a solid friendship hereafter. After the Project Pegasus story ends he'll appear again in MTIO issues 67, 73-74, and 81, a well as a joint appearance with Bashful Benjy in Marvel Team-Up Annual 5, a story which always felt more like a MTIO story anyway.
     Quasar had previously appeared in a couple of short runs in Captain America, a couple issue run in the Hulk, and in a Defenders storyline that had just about every hero in the Marvel Universe in it. After this he more or less disappeared with only a couple significant appearances (in Dazzler and MTU) until he finally came into his own in the 1990s when he joined the Avengers, got his own series (which lasted for 60 issues), and was named Protector of the Universe. Not bad for a kid from Wisconsin!
     This storyline was set up a little bit back in issue 42, which introduced Project Pegasus and told us that Wundarr was there.
     Instead of a letters page in this issue we get a full-page drawing of the layout of Project Pegasus.
     Volume three of Essential Marvel Two-in-One (released on July 15th, 2009) begins with this MTIO issue and reprints, in black and white, every MTIO issue up to #77, as well as Annuals #4 and #5. To my mind, this is clearly the class of the four probable Essential MTIO volumes.