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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Enter Coachmatt!

Work has been eating me alive so I apologize once again for the lengthy amount of time it took to make another update. Thank goodness for friends and so now this site will get to have new contents again. We may not have the exact same taste for stuff but his choices are ones that I highly respect and we do kind of influence each other with our recommendations.

Okay I need to cut this short now and let him take over, Newsarama regulars know him as the poster Coachmatt and here's his first attempt at a review of The Thing series a few years back by Marvel.

The Thing

by Matthew Cradic or as you may know me, the poster formerly know as coachmatt05

It was the second Sunday in February back in 2006. I had been sitting in the car with my brother for half an hour, despite the snowfall accumulating on the ground, waiting to be the first one in the shop. My LCS was having its annual 75% off sale right before they took inventory. The less stuff in the store, the less stuff they'd have to pay taxes on. As usual, I came prepared to blow a large sum of money on comics. Seriously, at that kind of a discount you'd be a fool to not take advantage. The doors open and I attack the trade paperback racks like a man possessed. I claimed three volumes of Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson for $5 a piece within the first two minutes. After that I moved to finish off my collection of Sandman trades. Little did I know that on that day I'd find a book that would become very important to me.

As I jetted around the shop I started to amass an ungodly stack of books. My brother happened across something that he decided he wanted. It was The Thing issue 1. I turned my nose up at it suspecting it to be one of the many subpar miniseries that Marvel puts out around the time a movie comes out. I questioned him on it, tried to get him to find something else, but that was what he wanted. After thinking about it again, I was glad that he was interested in a book that didn't have Wolverine in it. On the rack happened to be the second and third issues of this book. They were newer releases, but I was able to talk the owner into letting us have them at the same discount as all the back issues and trades. There was another book called Jonah Hex there that my brother wanted at the time. I simply laughed and told him that it was a western comic put out by DC. I mean, it couldn't have been good, right? You guys will hear lots more about ol' Jonah later. Anyways, looking back, I find it ironic that the cheapest books I bought turned out to be some of my all time favorites.

After leaving the comic shop I sped home with a back seat full of trades, back issues, and ginger ale. It took my brother and myself all of five minutes to unload all the items from our shopping spree and set them on the shelves in my room. I read some of this, skimmed some of that. Not really focusing on any one thing. I believe that I had just finished reading some horrific Spidey issue from the Other when my brother came into my room and told me that The Thing was actually pretty good and that I should give it a try. In an attempt to get the bitter taste of bad Spidey out of my mouth, I open up a fresh two liter of ginger ale and begin to read The Thing issue 1. I was hooked by the tenth page. Dan Slott was a genius! He captured everything that I had always loved about The Thing: the dialogue, the tough guy image, the heart of gold that Ben has. In a time that Marvel was starting to shift their focus, The Thing was the last shining jewel at the House of Ideas. In this work, Dan was able to capture more of what Marvel is about than any book I have read since.

For me, reading this work was a breath of fresh air from the cross over events that tend to leave the reader exhausted and burned out. The first arc was a three issue story about Ben and a party of celebrities getting kidnapped and taken to Murder Island by Arcade, who happened to be employed by a character parodying Paris Hilton. We have Constrictor, Iron Man, Nighthawk, and the Thing on this giant island filled with deadly traps trying to help the clumsy upper class escape with their lives. We get humor at a regular pace, but it never seemed to over power the title. We'd get a good fight every so often, look at the Hulk robots for example. Puny Bannerbot bites Ben's ankles while been swings and destroys a robotic copy of just about every form the Hulk has ever taken. Good, light hearted fun. Not only that, but we get to see the human side of Ben when he realizes that his actress girlfriend was dating him for his money, not for love. Obviously the reader could tell this from the halfway point of the story, but the way that Slott wrote Ben handling won my heart over.

Issue 4 introduced Lockjaw to the cast when he left the Inhumans to come be with Ben. I guess Lockjaw knew that Blackbolt was a Skrull well before Bendis decided to make him one. See that Bendis? Dan Slott was one step ahead of you the whole time you evil, maniacal fiend! Where was I? OH!

Unfortunately The Thing came out amidst big cross over events from both companies and saw the end of its run with issue 8. In it Dan gave us a fitting send off by having Ben's Bar Mitzvah, and a poker game. I won't tell who won, but I absolutely loved it, just as you should if you have a heart. Speaking of heart, that was one thing that you can feel while reading it; Dan poured his heart into it. Without a doubt, I would have to say this is my favorite series Marvel has put out this decade. We had beautiful art by Andrea Di Vito for the first 5 issues, and then Kieron Dwyer for the last 3. Andrea's was the best by far, but Kieron was able to come in and do a great job as well in keeping with the tone.

At a time that I find myself absolutely despising Marvel, I can always pick this up and read it and remember how the company used to be. If you can find a copy of the trade, The Thing: Idol of Millions, I would highly suggest it. Its out of print, but with Amazon and ebay, you can pick it up on the cheap.

I know that this is kind of an unorthodox review, but in case you didn't know I'm kind of an unorthodox guy. I sat down and tried to write this several different ways, but this seemed to have the best flow for me. Granted, its very much flawed, but as I go on and continue doing reviews for my friend's blog, my writing will improve. This has taken me a forever to get one up that I wasn't totally disgusted with, so I hope that you at least found some entertainment value from having read this.

1 comment:

Kieran/Kid Impulse said...

I just recently read this myself and it was great, it's a shame that fun comics like this, Ant-Man and The Order get ignored and cancelled, people really missed out with this comic

Only one problem though, too much Nighthawk (as in, he's in it at all, but that's just a personal peeve)

Great post Matt