This weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero blog post comes a little earlier than usual. This one examines various stories in the Thing’s team-up series titled Marvel Two-in-One after two adventures in Marvel Feature.
MARVEL FEATURE Vol 1 #11 (September 1973)
Title: Cry: Monster
Villains: The Leader and Kurrgo
Synopsis: The Thing and the Hulk get pitted against each other as part of a conflict between the Hulk’s archenemy the Leader (lower right) and the Fantastic Four’s old foe Kurrgo, the former dictator of Planet X. The Leader chose his greatest foe the Hulk as his champion in this fight, while Kurrgo chose the Thing, a member of his team of enemies the Fantastic Four.
The villain whose champion wins the battle will win the prize – abducting BOTH monsters to serve them in their plans. In the Leader’s case, to take over the Earth, and in Kurrgo’s case, to conquer and once again subjugate his people.
While the battle goes on in a ghost town in the American west, Kurrgo cheats by secretly amping up the Thing’s strength via periodic cosmic energy transmissions. This causes the Leader to declare Kurrgo the loser by default. Meanwhile, the Hulk and the Thing battle Kurrgo’s high-tech robot.
The destruction from this fight causes the robot AND Kurrgo’s spaceship to blow up, seemingly killing both Kurrgo and the Leader as Hulk and the Thing escape.
NOTE: The Leader turned up alive in the near future.
MARVEL FEATURE Vol 1 #12 (November 1973)
Title: The Bite of the Blood Brothers
Villains: The Blood Brothers and Thanos
Synopsis: This issue picks up with the Thing walking across the desert southwest after surviving the explosion of Kurrgo’s spaceship last time around. Iron Man comes across him on his way to examine the wreckage of Thanos’ underground base there, where Iron Man first fought the Blood Brothers, henchmen of Thanos the Mad Titan. (Iron Man #55, also Thanos’ first ever appearance)
The Blood Brothers, not dead like Iron Man thought, are still guarding what is left of the underground installation. Thanos, still waging the first Thanos War in various issues of Captain Marvel, Daredevil & the Black Widow as well as The Avengers, orders the two Roclite aliens – each roughly as strong as the Hulk – to kill Iron Man and the Thing.
Using teamwork, our heroes defeat the Blood Brothers. Disgusted, Thanos banishes the Roclite siblings to another dimension for now. Iron Man and the Thing depart the subterranean base.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #1 (January 1974)
Title: Vengeance of the Molecule Man
Villain: Molecule Man
Synopsis: The Thing is in the Florida Everglades, having decided to hunt for the Man-Thing, a mysterious swamp monster that keeps being sighted in the region, sometimes in conflict with supervillains.
NOTE: The Man-Thing is really scientist Ted Sallis, who was accidentally transformed into the monster by his own experiments. By odd happenstance, DC launched their similar Swamp Thing monster at almost the same time as Marvel had launched the Man-Thing.
Back to the story, the Thing at last tracks down the Man-Thing and engages it in combat. Meanwhile, in the dimension where he was banished long ago by the Watcher, the Molecule Man – an old foe of the Fantastic Four – at last manages to return to the Earth by utilizing the Nexus of All Realities. That nexus, located in the Everglades, is a Marvel Comics element, and assorted figures – including Thog the Netherspawn and Howard the Duck – have emerged from it.
With the escaped Molecule Man’s sudden appearance on the scene, the Thing and the Man-Thing team up to battle HIM instead. Eventually, the villain renders them ineffectual against him by reverting both of them to their human forms. (Ben Grimm in the case of the Thing)
Though both Ben and Ted would like nothing more than to remain human, they realize they cannot leave the world at the mercy of Molecule Man and chase after him through the swamp. After a while, they catch up with him in Citrusville, a town that suffers damage from supervillains almost as often as New York City due to its proximity to the Nexus of All Realities.
Our heroes interrupt Molecule Man’s destructive and homicidal rampage through Citrusville. He spitefully turns them both back into their monstrous forms and makes them fight each other. As the pair clash, quick thinking on the part of the Thing enables them to defeat Molecule Man, who seems to die, but of course will be back in the near future.
NOTE: A bit of trivia that will be forever attached to the Molecule Man is the fact that in his very first appearance, Fantastic Four #20 (November 1963), a fan letter from a 15-year-old GEORGE R.R. MARTIN was published on the letters page. If you’re not familiar with the name, he grew up to be the author of the Game of Thrones novels and more.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #2 (March 1974)
Title: Manhunters from the Stars (despite what the cover says)
Synopsis: Wundarr, a humanoid alien exiled by the Dakkam race, crash-lands on Earth. Atlantis’ Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, winds up saving the child-minded Wundarr from the Dakkamite authorities who show up on Earth to kill the exiled figure.
Sub-Mariner’s battle with the aliens and their gigantic android rages through New York City with the Thing being the first superhero to arrive on the scene. Namor and the Thing team up to drive off the Dakkamites, leaving Wundarr as a periodic guest star in Marvel Comics for years to come.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #3 – THE THING AND DAREDEVIL HERE.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #4 & 5 – THE THING, CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY HERE.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #7 (January 1975)
Title: Name That Doom
Villains: The Enchantress (Amora) and the Executioner (Skurge)
Synopsis: The Thing clashes with the Valkyrie when she is framed for the theft of a powerful occult relic.
After they battle for a while, it becomes clear that Valkyrie was set up by the Enchantress and the Executioner, two Asgardian villains who frequently battled the Avengers and the Defenders. The Thing and Valkyrie then take on the two villains.
In the end, our heroes win out thanks to the self-sacrifice of Alvin Denton, the father of Barbara Denton Norris, at that time the host body of the Valkyrie.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #8 (March 1975)
Title: Silent Night … Deadly Night
Villain: Miracle Man
Synopsis: On Christmas Eve, Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), leader of the Fantastic Four, detects an odd star which just appeared in the sky and seems to be hovering just over the Keewazi Indian Reservation in Arizona. The Thing volunteers to check out the phenomenon alone, to let his teammates continue to celebrate the holiday. He flies off in a Fantastic Four aircraft.
Meanwhile, in the Arizona desert, Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze) is riding across the night-darkened sands. He notices the star overhead and is amazed to see what looks like the Three Wise Men traveling toward the reservation. Suspecting some blasphemous ritual might be in the offing, carried out by some infernal menace, he follows the seeming Wise Men.
On the reservation, Ghost Rider battles Miracle Man, a recurring foe of the Fantastic Four, who drives him out of the site with his superior powers. Back out in the desert, Ghost Rider encounters the arriving Thing and they reenter the reservation to deal with the situation.
While they fight it out with Miracle Man, he reveals that he conjured up the star phenomenon and Three Wise Men as part of a charade to lure the Fantastic Four into his clutches. Strengthening the trap was his use of this particular Indian Reservation because it is where the Fantastic Four’s longtime friend Wyatt Wingfoot lives.
Naturally the good guys win when ancient Native American spirits arrive to strip the evil Miracle Man of his powers as punishment for his offenses against Native American beliefs and Christian beliefs.
NOTE: In the future, Miracle Man will regain his powers and battle the Defenders.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #10 (July 1975)
Title: Is This the Day the World Ends?
Villains: Sword of Judgment
Synopsis: The Thing is in Central Park with his blind sculptress girlfriend Alicia Masters when they get caught up in a battle between the Black Widow and a uniformed group of terrorists she is fighting.
Both the Thing and Black Widow get captured by the group and imprisoned in their offshore drilling platform headquarters. The Widow explains that the terrorist group call themselves Sword of Vengeance and they claim to be fighting on behalf of the oppressed and marginalized people of the world.
Like most such organizations, however, they have their own ambitions in mind. They have stolen materials to construct a hydrogen bomb here on their seeming oil platform.
The group’s leader, a former lover of the Black Widow long ago, tells them he and his troops will detonate the H-bomb underwater, causing a tsunami large enough to flood much of America’s East Coast, killing millions.
The Thing and Black Widow escape and while she whittles down the Sword of Vengeance soldiers, the Thing hauls up the hydrogen bomb. Our heroes succeed and capture the terrorists.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #11 (September 1975)
Title: The Thing Goes South
Synopsis: The Thing and his girlfriend Alicia Masters are on a train bound for Florida, where they plan to vacation.
Meanwhile, in Saint Petersburg, FL the immobile Golem has at last arrived at San Pedro University.
NOTE: The Golem was one of Marvel Comics’ many supernatural heroes of the 1970s. It was a being sculpted out of mystic clay in ancient Israel and would come to life whenever its people faced the forces of evil. This Golem had been unearthed in the Middle East recently and had a short-lived series which had been canceled. Marvel’s writers were now wrapping up its storyline in Marvel Two-in-One.
The students who were with the archeologist who dug up the Golem and began the process of having it transported to San Pedro University have been trying to convince Professor Yeates about the adventures they shared with the creature during the long journey.
From his prison dimension, Kaballa, the evil sorceror who has been trying to take over the Golem’s indestructible body ever since it was uncovered in the Middle East recently, manages at last to animate the Golem and sends it on a rampage through the SPU campus.
By comic book coincidence, this rampage is going on as the train bearing the Thing and Alicia passes by, prompting the Thing to try subduing the apparent menace. As the battle rages, Kaballa has more of his elemental demons of the Earth, Air, Water and Fire attack the Golem and the Thing, like he had been doing in the Golem’s own series.
The living statue’s student friends at last convey to the Thing all they know about Kaballa. The Golem and the Thing succeed in driving off the elemental demons and Kaballa at long last acknowledges defeat. The Golem returns to its immobile state.
NOTE: In the future, Kaballa resurfaced as a villain battling Marvel’s character Bloodstone.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #13 – THE THING AND POWER MAN HERE.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #14 – THE THING AND THE SON OF SATAN HERE.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #17 (July 1976)
Title: This City Afire
Villain: The Basilisk
Synopsis: The Basilisk, a supervillain previously opposed by Spider-Man and Captain Marvel, has returned and has caused a volcano to emerge from the Atlantic Ocean just off New York’s coastline.
Spider-Man and the Thing are on hand to do battle with the villain. Eventually, the pair defeat the Basilisk, who winds up disintegrating along with the volcano he produced.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #19 – THE THING AND TIGRA HERE.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #22 (December 1976)
Title: Touch Not the Hand of Seth
Synopsis: The Thing takes the seriously injured Black Sun, the supervillain he defeated the previous issue to a hospital for treatment. Noted physician Dr. Donald Blake, the secret identity of Thor back then, is needed to perform the kind of surgery that Black Sun requires.
Blake is summoned but on arrival at the hospital he must turn into Thor so that he and the Thing can stand side by side against the evil Egyptian god Seth and his unliving skeleton armies. After Seth is defeated, Thor becomes Dr. Blake and performs the surgery.
NOTE: Seth had been introduced in a three-part story in Thor #239-241 (September to November 1975). That storyline served to bring Marvel Comics’ version of the Egyptian pantheon of deities into the Marvel universe like they had brought in the Greek gods back when Thor fought Hercules in 1965 and 1966.
In that 1975 story Marvel featured Egyptian goddesses like Isis and Nut as well as gods like Osiris, Horus, Geb and Seth.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #24 (February 1977)
Title: Does Anyone Remember … the Hijacker?
Villain: The Hijacker
NOTE: The story title refers to the fact that the Hijacker’s one lone previous appearance came against Ant-Man way back in Tales to Astonish #40 (February 1963)
Synopsis: The Thing is out in Los Angeles at the laboratories of Stark West, Tony’s California compound. His super-strength and invulnerability make him a great human test subject for the latest all-environment space suit that scientist Bill Foster is trying to develop. That suit is intended for astronauts exploring hostile environments on planets like Venus, Mars and others.
NOTE: Bill Foster was a former research associate of THE Henry Pym, PhD and knew his friend’s secret identity. Once Henry gave up his Goliath hero identity in order to remain Yellowjacket, Foster took to using Pym Particles to grow to giant size as the superhero called Black Goliath.
The Hijacker strikes again after all these years. Using his knockout and memory-altering gas gun plus his new high-tech battle tank called the Murder Machine, he tries to steal the space suit but is defeated by the Thing and Black Goliath.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #25 (March 1977)
Title: A Tale of Two Countries
Villains: General Chonga and his troops
Synopsis: Kaiwann, an Asian Pacific island off the coast of Manchuria, is home to two separate nations, just like the Caribbean island of Hispaniola is home to both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Those two nations – whose names we are never told – have been at war for centuries, but recently a political marriage has been arranged between the young and beautiful Queen Sen of one country and the elderly Gracious One, ruler of the other country. General Chonga, wanting Queen Sen for himself, launched a coup and abducted the queen.
Prince Dragon, the handsome young prince who had been betrothed to Queen Sen until the political marriage was decided upon, recruits martial arts superhero Iron Fist and the famed fighter the Thing to rescue Queen Sen from Chonga and his army.
The heroes – accompanied by Prince Dragon’s warrior S’Kari – defeat Chonga’s forces in and around the Temple at the Ridge of Four Hells (volcanoes) on Kaiwann. The princess is rescued, the coup put down and, despite their love for one another, Queen Sen and Prince Dragon still let her political marriage to the elderly Gracious One go through in order to bring peace to the island after centuries of warfare.
NOTE: Believe it or not, Marvel has never used Kaiwann in any story ever again as of this writing. If anything, you’d think they’d have used Prince Dragon’s martial arts superhero, the blind swordsman S’Kari (left), as a character in some of their Kung Fu publications in the 1970s.
Considering how Japan’s fictional Zatoichi the blind swordsman has appeared in literally hundreds of stories since the 1960s I’m betting S’Kari, with his “other-senses” of some kind, could have become as popular as Iron Fist or Shang-Chi.
FOR MY REVIEW OF EARLY MARVEL TEAM-UP STORIES, IN WHICH SPIDER-MAN TEAMED UP WITH A SERIES OF MARVEL CHARACTERS CLICK HERE.