|THE THING No. 8, August 2006|
Any reader oblivious to this sadly being the final issue of “The Thing” 2006 series, will arguably find the storyline of “Last Hand” a jumbled mess of erratic sub-plots. All of which supposedly pull together to form an ending (of sorts) for the solo adventures of Benjamin Grimm. However those equally in the know that the comic had been ‘canned’ would also struggle to make sense of Dan Slott’s writing as the founding member of the Fantastic Four finally reignites his love affair with Alicia Masters… and plays a lot of cards.
Indeed it is hard to fathom out precisely where this story is heading for the vast majority of its twenty-two pages. For despite the main narrative revolving around a super-hero poker tournament, the comic is absolutely packed with flash-back sequences, whether they be silly scenes such as Squirrel-Girl defeating the Bi-Beast by surrounding him with stinking garbage, or far more serious religiously significant set-pieces such as Grimm undergoing his Bar Mitzvah thirteen years after first being exposed to the cosmic rays which transformed him into the Thing.
The most bemusingly bizarre interjection however has to be the human mutate’s encounter with the Impossible Man. Suffering with the hiccups the Poppupian causes so much damage to the sacred temples of Shemballa, that the Himalayan monks contact Arlo North and ask him to rebuild the sanctuaries. Unbelievably despite the famous architect having spent the past seven issues demonstrating his long-term commitment to Alicia, he immediately leaves their shared apartment in order to oversee the temples’ reparations.
Obviously such a departure brings the blind sculptor and super-hero back together again. But such a convenient occurrence is simply appallingly lazy scripting on Slott’s behalf and makes no sense whatsoever. Why does Arlo’s relationship have to abruptly end because of the reconstruction? Couldn’t his long-term girlfriend travel with him, even just for a short visit? Surely Alicia would be willing to, having already invested so much emotion in the man?
The poker game plot also seems somewhat wafer thin as the comic’s central plot. It arguably only being present to provide the American author with the opportunity to have the Thing be dealt a “Fantastic Four of a kind!” Whatever the reason the card championship’s conclusion and sudden departure of the horde of super-heroes from Ben’s flat so he can canoodle with Alicia is a terribly dissatisfying and disappointing end to both the book and the series… and would appear to have been awfully rushed; almost as if Slott had simply run out of ideas and just wanted the story finished.
Possibly as confused as many a reader surely was by all these storyline ‘comings and goings’, artist Kieron Dwyer provides something of a mixed bag with his pencils. A suitably steady hand one moment, drawing a wonderfully atmospheric Bar Mitzvah 'double-splash' illustration. The American's artwork then borders on the horribly cartoony, as he sketches a ludicrously silly looking Impossible Man during the green-skinned alien's supposedly hilarious 'hiccupping happenings.'
|Story: Dan Slott, Artist: Kieron Dwyer, and Colors: Laura Villari|