|MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE No. 1, January 1974|
It seems quite evident that Steve Gerber clearly had little concern as to just how contrived he needed to make the narrative for this first issue of “Marvel Two-In-One” in order to pair Benjamin Grimm and the Man-Thing up together. Why else would the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Famer have penned the Thing enduring “a day-an’-a half ride ta the Everglades” on a bus simply because “that swamp-rat” purportedly committed “plagiarism” by having a magazine ‘rip off his name” and steal his “moniker”? Indeed the founding member of the Fantastic Four’s oversensitivity to the Florida swamp creature “trying ta hog my glory” is ludicrous in the extreme and certainly doesn’t do justice to a Jack Kirby co-creation as famous for his selfless ‘heart of gold’ attitude as he is his orange rocky hide.
Equally as bizarre however has to be the Missouri-born writer’s creation of a second Molecule Man, who having vowed revenge upon Reed Richards' super-team for causing his father’s ignoble death on “a nameless world in a cosmos other than our own”, purposely exposes himself to “a shower of atomic particles” in order to be transformed into “the Monarch of the Universe!” Worryingly under-dressed in just an ornate thong, and armed with a metal wand capable of reversing an accelerated aging process that would actually see the villain “reduced to ashes” within seconds, Owen Reece’s bald-headed ‘successor’ proves a remarkably underwhelming foe for “the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed” Grimm and Ted Sallis’ alter-ego; especially when the manipulator of molecules is depicted impotently tapping his supposedly malfunctioning wand simply because “it won’t teleport me past the edge of this swamp.”
Gerber’s script for “Vengeance Of The Molecule Man!” does however still contain some noteworthy moments, such as its early nod to the lead character’s previous ‘team-ups’ alongside the Hulk and Iron Man in the final two issues of “Marvel Feature”, as well as a rare opportunity to see “the chemist who had been the Man-Thing” in action. In fact even “Flash-face” is eventually imbued with some chillingly cold-blooded gravitas as he quite horribly transforms a hapless resident of Citrusville into a duplicate of Mister Fantastic and promptly then stretches the screaming individual until his elastic body grotesquely snaps…
Arguably just as inconsistent as the storyline is Gil Kane’s disappointing artwork. It’s evident that the Shazam Award-winner was clearly capable of pencilling an impressively thick-set powerful-looking “orange-skinned buffoon”. But the American artist’s drawings of Molecule Man, Grimm and Sallis are actually all disconcertingly similar in appearance and with the exception of the Yancy Streeter seem astoundingly sinewy.
|Writer: Steve Gerber, Penciller: Gil Kane, and Inker: Joe Sinnott|