Tales of the Thing #1-3
Writer: Brandon Thomas (after Steve Gerber (1) and Alan Kupperberg (2))
Penciller: Scott Hepburn and Michael O'Hare (1), Michael O'Hare (2-3)
Inker: Scott Hepburn, Wing Renacs, and Mostafa Moussa (1), Mostafa Moussa (2-3)
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colorist: J. Brown
Editor: Nicole Wiley
The Guest Stars:
1: Dr. Strange
3: Invisible Woman
1: Destiny (sort of)
2: Hulk, Craig Brice
3: Mad Thinker, Wrecking Crew (Wrecker, Piledriver, Bulldozer, Thunderball)
1: Alicia Masters
2: Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch
3: Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, Wizard
The Set Ups:
Issue 1: A mysterious young woman with a harmonica plays a beautiful melody, and the damage from a car accident is mysteriously restored. Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters bump in to her on their way to a restaurant, and continue on. Dr. Stephen Strange magics up some cash for a homeless beggar, and then senses a mystical presence nearby, the young lady, and is just in time to witness a young purse snatcher steal her harmonica and escape. With glowing yellow eyes, the girl informs Dr. Strange that the harmonica can alter people's destinies, making their fears come true. His world is in danger, and she needs his help. Over at the restaurant, the Thing is telling Alicia about some demons which recently scared him (though the macho Ben Grimm denies being scared), when the boy runs past with the harmonica and a swarm of demons are whipped up in his wake, turning on Ben. Dr. Strange and the young lady (whose name is Destiny) come to Ben's aid, and the three proceed to try to track down the boy while the fears of themseves and those around them come to life.
Issue 2: Ben visits Reed in his lab, annoyed that Hollywood has made a full-length feature movie about the Hulk: "Hulk Smash!" Reed tries to talk Ben out of caring, but Ben's aggravation wins out, and Reed introduces Ben to a contact at Miracle Studios (the producers of the Hulk film): Craig Brice, the studio's CEO. While Ben gets the studio tour and discusses possible Thing properties, elsewhere Bruce Banner gets agitated, Hulks out, and heads to Hollywood to find those who are, to his mind, making fun of him. Ben is in a holographic studio checking things out when the Hulk busts in, and the obligatory battle ensues.
Issue 3: Bulldozer, of the Wrecking Crew, has a half dozen hostages trapped in a green mechanical force field, while a mysterious boss on the telephone gives him instructions on how to keep the coming superheroes occupied for a certain length of time. In bursts the Thing and the Invisible Woman, who have no trouble taking down Bulldozer though they do wonder at the technology he used. A police call about the Wrecker and Thunderball quickly follows, and we see that these two are also being directed by the same mysterious mastermind. Again, our pair of heroes quickly takes down the two villains, and they then proceed to chase after the final member of the Wrecking Crew, Piledriver, while trying to figure out what's really going on and who is really behind it all, as a flying car chase after Piledriver through Manhattan's steel canyons ensues...
Issue 1, page 18. As some monsters grow out of the asphalt, Ben warns off Dr. Strange... "Drop the shield and stand back-- it's Clobberin' Time!!"
Issue 2, final page. Ben realizes he got played by the execs at Miracle Studios, and "if this ain't clobberin' time, then I don't know what is..."
No Petunia at all in any of the three issues. Maybe they find her not cool enough for the kid-audience these are pointed at, or maybe John Byrne killed Petunia forever when he brought her in as a real character back in Fantastic Four 238-239, after the completion of Marvel Two-in-One's run, but long before these three issues appeared.
Things of Interest:
Issue 1 is very loosely drawn from the plot of MTIO 6, and issue 2 is similarly very loosely drawn from the plot of MTIO 46. Issue 3, however, is completely original.
Though not so listed in the actual books, these three issues were originally solicited as part of the Marvel Age / Marvel Adventures line, basically comics for kids. Until I see any of 'em referenced somewhere in Marvel continuity, I'd tend to assume that they were indeed Marvel Adventure stories, though there's nothing in them that rules them out of "really" happening.
These three stories (with a few others) were reprinted in digest form almost immediately, in Fantastic Four Tales, volume 1.
I included these books before including other Thing miniseries / one-shots like Freakshow, Night Falls on Yancy Street, and Startling Stories: The Thing because these three are very specifically team up stories, and because issues 1 and 2 are both homages to MTIO issues. Someday the other Thing series may or may not make their way in here as well.
Kiddie books? Yeah, well, nobody gets dissemboweled or decapitated, and there is a pretty strong moral to the first one. Honestly, the art does have a rather simplistic two-dimensional "cartoonish" look to it, but I find the simplicity of it to work very well. Personally, I'm quite satisfied with these myself, and rate them solidly in the middle of the pack compared to the classic MTIO- certainly nothing that puts them near the best of the best (though issue 3 in particular is a lot of fun, in my opinion, more details to follow next paragraph), but there's also nothing in them the least bit embarassing. I'd like to see the teams involved get some more mainstream Marvel work in the future...
As I noted, I really enjoyed issue 3- its fairly straighforward, but its nicely drawn, has great action scenes (the flying car chase in particular), and the writer really makes the interactions between Sue, Ben, and the villains work- he seems to really have an understanding of and a feel for the characters. While I might recommened issues 1 and 2 only for fans of the characters, I think I'd have little trouble recommending issue 3 as a great fun read to everyone!