|THE THING No. 7, July 2006|
Writing a successful comedy romance for a comic book, especially one which features the orange rock-like human mutate Benjamin Grimm as one of the potential ‘involved parties’, is presumably quite a difficult accomplishment to achieve. Certainly it must be so without the author heavily relying upon physical slapstick humour and allowing the storyline to degenerate into clownish farce. For with “Dis Man, Dis Monster, Disarmed!” Dan Slott manages to corrupt a potentially touching heart-warming story of two former long-time lovers reuniting for a birthday celebration into an embarrassing charade of buffoonery. One which later even momentarily manages to turn dark and menacing as The Thing presses his intentions upon Alicia Masters a little too forcefully.
Indeed it seems arguably evident that the American comic book writer didn’t really know what sort of story he wanted to create for this issue as at first the script seems to touch upon the macabre as the founding member of the Fantastic Four finds himself in the clutches of his sweetheart’s stepfather, the super-villain known as the Puppet Master. Manacled to a ceiling, the “rock-covered freak” can only watch helplessly as the artisan manipulates Alicia into passionately embracing her current boyfriend Arlo North. Overwrought at the sight and wholly in the thrall of Phillip Masters, Grimm starts to literally beat himself up.
Fortunately this disturbing scene is nothing more than a bad dream, but having explored its meaning with Sue Richards, it seems to motivate the former space pilot into attempting to win back the woman he loves… Something which under Slott’s guiding pen, can only mean a misguided humiliating journey back to Ancient Greece for one of the Marvel Universe’s most noble characters.
Admittedly there is much amusement to be had once the super-strong Hercules has been introduced into the story. But as there isn’t any actual reason for the head-strong god to continually ‘slug-it-out’ with The Thing except for the drunken sot’s desire for ‘a monster to fight’, the humorous depictions of both combatants flying through the air smashing trees and literally disarming statues quickly becomes tediously tiring. Unimaginatively this confrontation is eventually resolved by the blind sculptor simply stepping in-between the two bruisers, and following this act Ben and Alicia’s “classic” relationship blossoms anew.
Perhaps as equally bemused by this potential time-travelling trip into ‘the Twilight Zone’ artist Kieron Dwyer provides some inconsistent and jarringly awkward-looking illustrations throughout the book. Though his pencilling of both Hercules and The Thing crashing into wine barrels, foliage and marble pillars is extremely well animated and full of action-packed energy.
|Story: Dan Slott, Artist: Kieron Dwyer, and Colors: Laura Villari|