Marvel’s The Thing #1 is a masterful homage to Ben Grimm and Jack Kirby

The Important Things #1, the very first standalone book for the Fantastic 4’s establishing member given that 2006, is now on racks sporting an interesting set of credits. Marvel has actually combined up-and-comer Tom Reilly’s art work with the writing of Walter Mosley, a 69-year-old author best understood for pulpy investigator tales. It’s a spotlight treatment of a Jack Kirby character who existed for Marvel’s huge bang 60 years earlier, however likewise a man who generally flights backseat in conversations of that publisher’s greatest characters and franchises.

Who is making The Important Things #1?

Walter Mosley, the National Book Structure laureate best understood for his pulp-inspired Easy Rawlins character and unique series, is The Important Things’s author. You might remember a 1995 movie called Devil in a Blue Gown, starring Denzel Washington — that’s Easy Rawlins, and the movie adjusted the character’s very first look and Mosley’s very first book. In comics, Mosley was likewise behind the abundant Optimum Fantastic 4, a 2005 event of Jack Kirby’s art work for Great 4 #1, the starting file of the contemporary Marvel Universe.

Tom Reilly, who penciled X-Men: Marvels Pictures #1 in 2015 and Morbius: Bond of Blood #1 this spring, is the artist. Jordie Bellaire supplies colors and Joe Sabino letters.

What is The Important Things #1 about?

Ben Grimm remains in a transitional duration. He and long time sweetheart Alicia Masters separate after an intensified misconception that ends with Ben pepper-sprayed and discarded in prison following a violent, public outburst. After he goes out, he re-evaluates his relationships and is matchmade with an attractive designer. A troubling dream, nevertheless, hints his encounter with a brand-new opponent, who is consumed with the exact same lady. For as Hercules observes, Ben seems stalked by the exact same fiend who produced this opponent, who describes himself as Brusque.

Exists any necessary reading?

The Thing #1 (2021), Marvel Comics. NYPD in special gear show up to arrest Ben Grimm, The Thing

Image: Walter Mosley, Tom Reilly/Marvel Comics

Although The Important Things #1 isn’t a lore-heavy reintroduction, it does presume some understanding of the character and his considerable contribution to The Great 4’s web of relationship drama. Mosley is 69 years of ages, and he checked out FF as a kid and teenager maturing in Los Angeles. So a long time fan’s viewpoint — knowledgeable about the huge things, not a lot existing occasions — is practical. Mosley recalls (through Ben’s dialogue) something Mister Fantastic observed about vibranium way back in Black Panther’s 1966 origin issue; that’s a good example of the familiarity his book expects.

Also, this ComicsXF interview with Mosley illuminates how the author thinks and feels about Ben Grimm more broadly:

When he’s working with the Fantastic Four, he’s the pack animal, carrying all the things they need. I think Ben and Sue are kind of in the same place: they back up the other two. Every so often they get their own thing, but when Sue does, she has to be alone, and when Ben does, he usually turns bad for some reason — at least he did back then. So I just wanted to pull him out. It’s hard to write about a Fantastic Four, because it’s much more familial. Which I like, but I want to talk about the Thing, and how important he is to the whole world: to me, as important as Spider-Man to that world.

Is The Thing #1 good?

It’s a slow burn, which is strange considering the blazing pace of occasions in the book’s first 12 pages. That includes a jailhouse cameo by Hercules, explained by a modest-sized balloon of expository text. This introductory concern’s purpose is to drive three characters, 2 of them new, together on the final page: Ben, his rebound date Amaryllis DeJure, and a new villain, whose visual treatment vaguely reminded me of Jack Kirby’s the Wrecker.

Reilly’s precise, minimalist pencil style serves the overall tone of The Thing well, as does the semi-symmetrical rock pattern he’s chosen for some of Ben’s closeups. But The Thing #1 is still more pitch than it is sale; I’m intrigued mainly because I’m guessing at the creative urges Mosley wants to scratch.

The story presents a matter-of-fact intersection of other-dimensional beings, fabulous high technology, mutated folks, and ordinary life, the defining traits of the Marvel Age that Kirby inaugurated. It’s not as subtle as an homage or as overt as a love note, however it’s definitely the work of a longtime fan.

One panel that popped

The Thing #1 (2021), Marvel Comics. Ben Grimm is being asked for biographical details for a dating service run by a Tinkerbell-like fairy.

Image: Walter Mosley, Tom Reilly/Marvel Comics

When Ben is signing up for a dating service, whose concierge apparently is Tinkerbell, he’s asked for his biographical details. “Race? Non-white,” is a good chuckle, but also evocative of how Mosley, who is Black, has seen Ben Grimm ever since he was a young fan. Again, from ComicsXF:

When I was a kid, I identified him like a brother. What I would say now is that he’s not like a white American character. People don’t want him around; they’re afraid of him. When he walks into a room, they want to get away from him. When he sits in a restaurant, they say “we don’t have any chairs that will fit you.” His girlfriend needs to be blind since if she saw who he really was, that would not work out well. So it’s a thing about being classified a second-class person. Necessary — “I need your strength, I need you to back me up and be there for me” — however likewise, “you make me nervous.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.