Beware: spoilers for MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1 abound!

From 1974 to 1983, the MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE series featured Ben Grimm, also known as the Thing, of the Fantastic Four teaming up with other superheroes. In 2017, Marvel Entertainment revived the series with MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1. This story, entitled “The Fate of the Four,” focuses on the Thing teaming up with Johnny Storm, also known as the Human Torch, to explore the multiverse.

Reed and Sue Richards, along with their two children, are presumed to be dead, and their former teammates are struggling to cope with their loss. However, upon the arrival of Victor von Doom, the Thing realizes that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to death.

marvel two-in-one #1
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1 page 3. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The Fate of the Four

Upon the beginning of MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1, there’s a rift between Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm. Johnny appears to be tackling reckless endeavors that test the limits of his own survival. Spider-Man informs Ben that Johnny isn’t doing these things just for fun. He believes that Johnny needs help. Ben expresses reluctance in speaking with Johnny. He’s grown tired of his instability and doesn’t want to take responsibility for him. However, after Spider-Man hands Ben the keys to the warehouse where remnants of the old Baxter Building are being stored, Ben calms down.

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He travels to said warehouse, where he runs into none other than Victor von Doom, who informs him that he had stolen an orb left behind by Reed. However, Doom was unable to learn its contents as it could only be accessed by Ben Grimm himself. After a brief scuffle, Ben discovers what’s within the orb: a message from Reed detailing the existence of a device that can access the multiverse. Reed implores Ben to take Johnny on a journey and uphold a life of exploration, the life that the Fantastic Four had always worked toward.

Inspired, Ben locates Johnny, who reveals that he’s been acting recklessly due to his belief that his powers are fading. In an effort to revitalize Johnny, Ben tells him that the two must embark on an adventure since there’s a chance that Reed, Sue, and their children are still alive. Unbeknownst to Johnny though, this chance is actually nonexistent.

The Ones Left Behind

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1’s writer Chip Zdarsky emphasizes the consequences of nostalgia and grief throughout the issue. Johnny Storm, in particular, exemplifies his grief when he expresses anger towards seeing Ben. He doesn’t wish to be reminded of his lost loved ones. Additionally, the potential loss of his powers depicts another separation from the Fantastic Four. His connection with the ones he loves is fading. As a result, his identity is changing. Johnny doesn’t want to be the person he was. His identity as a member of the Fantastic Four is too much of a reminder of what he lost.

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Ben Grimm handles his grief in different ways. He’s much more retrospective than Johnny. Instead of trying to forget the past, he immerses himself in nostalgia. He continuously engages in flashbacks in an attempt to relive his final moments with his loved ones. So it will be interesting to see how the union of Ben and Johnny will affect their current state of mind, especially considering Ben’s blatant lie to Johnny regarding the possibility of their former teammates’ survival.

Perhaps the most poignant aspect of MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1 is the work’s ability to transcend its pages. The narrative is genuine in its commentary on grief. Readers will be able to identify with the characters’ turmoil as each one exemplifies a different manner of coping with a loss that is difficult to understand.

marvel two-in-one #1
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1 page 11. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The Many Hues of MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1

The collaboration of artist Jim Cheung and colorist Frank Martin is one of MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1’s stand-out aspects. The issue features some beautiful juxtaposition within its imagery. The panels above showcase a unique distinction between the present and a powerful flashback to Sue and Reed’s final moments. The artwork of the flashbacks interestingly presents Sue Storm as a spectral figure.

This depiction parallels her overlying presence in the narrative. She maintains a haunting existence, one that cannot seem to leave Ben and Johnny. Her husband, Reed, bears this same nature. In the panels below, he embodies Sue’s spectral nature as he “visits” Ben.

This unique presentation of characters past and present unexpectedly unites them in time. Yes, half the team is gone. However, the essence of the Fantastic Four is alive in the remaining team members’ memories, even if they reluctantly hold onto them. As a result, the artwork exemplifies the story’s theme of nostalgia, a concept a reader may find themselves desiring when the going gets tough. Thus, the artwork of this issue is particularly poignant as it augments the narrative’s commentary on coping with loss.

marvel two-in-one #1
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1 page 15. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

What Lies Beyond

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1 is a great introduction to a series with potential to shine. There’s a lot of darkness within the issue’s primary characters. So it will be interesting to see if said characters heal on their journey together. With this, it’s worth noting that the truth has a habit of revealing itself. So will the inevitable revelation of Ben Grimm’s lie deepen the rift between him and Johnny Storm? Looks like we’ll have to wait until January 24, 2018, to find out!

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1 by Chip Zdarsky, Frank Martin, & Jim Cheung
Though MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #1 primarily sets up future stories, it serves as a worthy introduction to a potentially fantastic series.
88 %
The beginning of a beautiful series
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