Friday, November 4, 2011

Thing Of Beauty!

Arguably, Jack Kirby's greatest and most complete creation is Ben Grimm, the Thing. The character was the closest to Kirby's own personality if reports are to believed, and that rich character, a tragic figure remains to my feeling Marvel's most interesting. The character clearly evolved over the years, becoming less a monster and more a peculiar and powerful figure. The Thing as drawn by Kirby looked like nothing else, and despite the great talent which has followed, no one ever drew the character as well as the King.

Here is Kirby alongside his greatest creation at the San Diego Convention in 1980. According to this report, this drawing was done before the admiring eyes of those in attendance.

The greatest Thing story, and possibly the greatest single story from Mighty Marvel is "This Man...This Monster!" from Fantastic Four #51. Here's a reflection on that classic. And here's another and another.

I didn't really appreciate Ben Grimm when I first started reading comics. I was a Hulk guy, but the Thing won me over with Kirby's last great FF epic, a story featuring the Thing. The saga of the Skrull planet Kral, a planet of gangsters where Ben Grimm is kidnapped and turned into a gladiator is a stirring tale. What it might lack in the grandeur of earlier FF sagas, it makes up in rich characterization.

To close, here are some originals featuring the King's Thing.

Rip Off


  1. I've always been the exact opposite, I grew up reading the Fantastic Four and the Thing was always my favorite. He's just one of the greatest Marvel characters. Such a unique and distinctive personality. Meanwhile, I've never been able to get all that into the Hulk.

    Is it like Elvis people and Beatles people? Everyone prefers one over the other.

  2. I remember not liking the Thing's design for some reason, when I saw it in early comics. He was off-putting to me somehow, which I guess was the point. The subtler aspects of his delightful personality didn't register until later with me.

    I was Avengers oriented when I first snagged onto Marvel, so maybe that has something to do with it. But happily I did eventually climb aboard the Ben appreciation society. He's a dandy.

    Rip Off

  3. The Thing is great. For about the first 40 issues or so of the FF, by far the best thing about the comic is Ben Grimm and the humor he provides, as well as a couple of memorable tussles with the Hulk! It's interesting the way the Thing's look gradually evolved, too, from a somewhat lumpy guy to the harder, more tiled version of Ben Grimm we all know and love.


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