The Thing #8: Last Hand


Writer: Dan Slott
Penciller: Kieron Dwyer
Inker: Kieron Dwyer
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Colorist: Laura Villari
Editor: Tom Brevoort

Guest Shots:
      Those playing poker included Beast (Hank McCoy), Big Bertha, Luke Cage, Captain America, Colossus, Constrictor, Cyclops, Doorman, Dr. Strange, Falcon, Flatman, Goliath (Bill Foster), Hercules, Human Torch, Impossible Man, Iron Fist, Iron Man (Tony Stark), Marvel Girl (Rachel Summers), Mr. Fantastic, Mr. Immortal, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers), Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond), Sasquatch, She-Hulk, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Squirrel Girl, Stingray, Sub-Mariner, Tigra, Wasp, Wolverine, Wonder Man, and Yellowjacket (Hank Pym). Also visibly in attendance were Alicia Masters and Lockjaw, neither of whom played. Also seen at the bar mitzvah the Aquarian, Black Bolt, Dum Dum Dugan, Jacob Grimm, Petunia Grimm, the Invisible Woman, Valeria Richards, Justice (Vance Astrovik), Rabbi Lowenthal, Willie Lumpkin, Medusa, and Hiram Sheckerberg. In flashback: Arlo North.

The Villain:
      In flashback: Bi-Beast

The Set Up:
     Poker, poker, and more poker. Beginning with a side pot in which Hercules regains his fortune from the Constrictor (who has previously won it in a lawsuit), we settle in to a super-hero poker tournament occupying all three floors of Ben's townhouse. Punctuated with flashbacks to various adventures and to Ben's bar mitzvah, marking thirteen years as the Thing, we watch the games proceed uninterrupted over the course of the night...

Clobberin' Time?:
      Page 7, taking down the Bi-Beast as he holds his nose closed with one hand: "It's Clobberim' Tibe"

Petunia's Patch:
      No Petunia reference, but her name is on Ben's bar mitzvah invite, and presumably she's there in the crowd.

Things of Interest:
     Love love love the poker game. This is an issue of bits, which I don't want to spoil, but I particularly enjoyed: Squirrel Girl continuing to take down powerful foes, GLA/GLX/GLDefenders/GLChampions, "an incursion from Earth-A," Goliath's tell, Impossible Man playing as..., the final hand, and the way the game is forcibly ended.
     You can buy the cover to this issue as a t-shirt at ( http://www.stylinonline.com/tsmarvelhighstakespoker.html ). Needless to say, I have one!
     The bar mitzvah scene is very moving - something I never would have expected, and it makes a great touch to close the series on. This series was cancelled waaaay before it deserved to be.
     Very nice last page. Spidey: "Um... is that it?" Narrator: "Yeah, that's it. See ya!"
     Shortly after this final issue, Marvel dived into its Civil War, forcing heroes into two warring camps and almost taking the last bits of fun out of their universe entirely (I won't even mention the death of Bill Foster - admittedly always a 'b' character (or maybe 'c' or even 'd') - but, I'm happy he had one happy moment here). To me, this final poker game is almost the last ray of sunshine before the ushering in of an era of gloom and doom comics; I can only hope that we eventually somehow find our way back to comics that can be fun. End of an era, right here. :(

     So, on March 31st, 2007 I attended my first real comics convention, Seattle's Emerald City Comicon. Sitting at a desk there was Kieron Dwyer, and I'd intended to ask him for a sketch of a Serpent Society member, since I'm a big fan of that group and he'd pencilled one of their major arcs. When I finally got a chance to talk to him, I looked down at what he'd been doing; he was shuffling the original art from one of his books into order and putting 'em into folders. Imagine my surprise to see that the books in question were his three Thing issues! I picked up both of these pages on the spot, basically having my wife tie him down while I ran for the ATM. As anyone who's read these pages might guess, the two-page spread at the bottom instantly acquired the status of being one of my favorite pieces of art.

     When I attended my third or fourth Seattle Comicon in 2012, Dan Slott, the writer of the book, was announced as a guest. I brought the one-pager back with me, and got him to add his signature to Mr. Dwyer's -->

     And by the by, if you wonder - I once inquired of Andrea DiVito if I could buy any Thing art from issues 1-5, and he replied that he was so fond of the book that he didn't intend to sell any of it. Disappointing for me on one level, but I do love that the artist enjoyed that book so much that he won't let it go.