|MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE No. 35, January 1978|
Straight from this book’s spectacular Ernie Chan cover depicting Skull the Slayer and Ben Grimm battling a party of African warriors and a ferocious dinosaur, “Marvel Comics Group” editor Marv Wolfman seems to have been determined to deliver a no-nonsense highly enjoyable action-packed read to this title’s audience. Admittedly the Brooklyn-born writer’s story starts off with a somewhat clunky awkwardly written one-page preamble which swiftly establishes that the United States Air Force have ‘recruited’ the Thing to fly their “sleek, experimental R-37 supersonic “Bird of Prey” in order to “penetrate the Bermuda Triangle” and locate a missing jet plane. But such a considerably contrived set of kooky circumstances is easily forgivable when it means that within the space of a few panels, the former test pilot’s aircraft is trapped within the jaws of “an overgrown canary” and shockingly transported back in time to the age of prehistoric monsters, or rather “roughly one quarter of a billion years before they invented television”.
Having abrasively pulled one of the founding members of the Fantastic Four into his version of ‘Jurassic Park’, the Shazam Award-winner wastes absolutely no time in preparing the ground for the unlikely team-up of The Thing with his very own co-creation, Jim Scully, a Vietnam veteran whose alien Scorpion power belt grants him super-strength. Indeed Wolfman’s introduction of the herculean adventurer proves to be just as much a breathless non-stop escapade as that of Aunt Petunia’s blue-eyed nephew as he wastes no time prevaricating over the fact that “Enter: Skull the Slayer And Exit: The Thing!” directly follows on from the events published in the eighth and final edition of “Skull The Slayer”. But instead prefers to bring the reader up to date as to how that cancelled comic book ended by way of some concise scribbled footnotes found within the margin.
As a result just as soon as Ben Grimm’s battered ‘oarless craft’ comes to land, the rock-like human mutate is bashing “bad guys” and together with Scully, thwarting the machinations of the power-mad Jaguar Priest. Rather impressively such pulse-pounding all-action antics then continues unabated for a further eleven pages as the phenomenally strong duo wrestle a giant pterodactyl to the ground and attempt to fend off a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex with a few well-aimed punches.
Uncharitably, such a propensity for preposterous predicaments does occasionally sway Nostalgic Marv’s storyline a little close to all-out farce, especially when despite being able to previously ‘lay out a carnivorous theropod with one little clobber’ The Thing ends up running for his life away from one. But so sudden a conclusion to such a titanic 'classic' confrontation would have deprived the reader of some truly glib comments by a back-peddling Benjamin; “Er, anyone got an army hidin’ in the bushes somewhere?”
As one would expect from so notable a guest artist as Ernie Chan, the pencilling within Issue Thirty Five of “Marvel Two-In-One” is wonderfully dynamic and crammed full of both energy and life. Of particular note are the amazingly animated dinosaurs the Filipino-American comic book artist conjures up, with the baleful red-eyed Tyrannosaurus proving to be especially impressive, if a little unrealistically agile. In fact it is hard to imagine Skull the Slayer’s own magazine selling as poorly as it did if the predominantly ‘Swords and sorcery’ illustrator had drawn it.
|Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman, Pencils: Ernie Chan and Colorist: Michele Wolfman|