Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

30 November 2006

Thing: Idol of Millions

Collects: The Thing, v. 2, #1-8 (2006)

Released: August 2006 (Marvel)

Format: 192 pages / color / $20.99 / ISBN: 0785118136

Why do comic-book readers hate Dan Slott so much?

The Thing: Idol of Millions was originally slated to be the first volume reprinting the new volume of The Thing, written by Slott. Instead, when low sales prompted Marvel to cancel the series with #8, it became the reprint of the entire series. (Not really hate, I suppose, but disinterest isn’t a compelling emotion to write about.)

It’s a shame, too. Idol of Millions has the same wit and humor Slott displays in the (cancelled and revived) She-Hulk and GLA, and he works his sense of humor into low-angst, character-oriented stories. Slott is essentially a traditionalist; behind the book’s hook — the Thing is a billionaire — the stories hearken back to the days when the Thing starred in Marvel Two-in-One or v. 1 of his own book.

The Thing: Idol of Millions cover Almost every issue is a team up of some sort. Ben’s relationship with Alicia, long neglected, is at the fore, hinting at their reunion. The Fantastic Four is his family; Yancy Street is the past he can’t — and doesn’t want to — shake. Old villains from the Frightful Four pop up, just like Lockjaw, a frequent guest in the Thing’s first title. It’s just like déjà vu all over again.

The abrupt end to the series is apparent from the way #8 is constructed; there are two flashbacks to adventures that could have been full issues. Despite this, Slott makes the issue enjoyable, with plenty of jokes and a lighthearted tone that belie the imminent cancellation. Artist Kieron Dwyer, who also drew #6-7, keeps up with Slott’s humor (at one point, the green and purple Impossible Man, who can change his shape but not his colors, morphs into different heroes and villains from panel to panel, revealing the depth of purple and green characters in the Marvel Universe).

Actually, it seems Dwyer and Andrea Divito, who drew #1-5, had a great deal of fun with Slott’s scripts. Dwyer’s art is a little rougher than Divito’s smooth linework, and switching artists in the middle of a two-part story (#5-6) isn’t ideal, but Dwyer tells the story just as ably.

For such a light title, Slott uses a great deal of continuity. From the Sandman’s reformation (and forced counterreformation) to all the different robotic versions of the Hulk and Thing used by Arcade, each referring to a different period in their original’s career, it’s apparent Slott knows his Marvel history. (It’s evident in She-Hulk too.) Continuity isn’t popular at Marvel at the moment, but Slott uses it well, and it’s clear he doesn’t share his bosses’ enthusaishm for some changes — #6 reads like a good-natured poke at Spider-Man’s new status quo.

But continuity or not, it’s the humor that’s the selling point. And that’s what made Slott’s The Thing so entertaining.

Rating: Fantastic Four symbol Fantastic Four symbol Fantastic Four symbol Fantastic Four symbol (4 of 5)

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