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This particular comic was the last issue of the long-running "Marvel Two-In-One" series, although it sort of returned a month later with the first issue of a solo series for The Thing, written by John Byrne as part of his "ownership" of the Fantastic Four franchise. He's also the writer for this final issue, but rather than using it to look back on the series as a whole (which was pretty much covered by all the returning villains in Visiting Hours a few months earlier) Byrne instead returns to his previous anniversary story for Marvel Two-In-One #50. That story saw Ben Grimm travelling back in time to give an earlier version of himself a cure for being The Thing (which would not have worked on his present self) then returning to his own time to discover that he had not changed history, and had instead created an alternate universe.
There's further fiddling about with The Rules Of Time Travel And Alternate Universes, as Ben travels to this alternate reality again, this time to the present day where he discovers an Earth that was devastated by Galactus. This has all happened because there was no Thing around as part of The Fantastic Four. After Ben Grimm was cured Spider-man was recruited into the team instead, and was clearly not as much use when it came to the big fight with Galactus, leaving it to the other heroes to try (and fail) to fight him off. This section plays out like a "What If?" story, and as so often happens Doctor Doom is roped in to illustrate The Fantastic Four's many battles with him, this time with Spidey included. That's Doom's only appearance, and the story continues with The Thing discovering some other differences, notably that The Red Skull is now in charge of the planet. The Thing wasn't around in the very early days of the Fantastic Four, so never had an argument with The Human Torch that sent him to the dockside flophouses where he discovered the Submariner, who thus did not find Captain America in a block of ice, and so he in turn wasn't around to stop The Red Skull. It's all a bit of a head scratcher which leads to some alarming images of a broken Twin Towers with a colossal Nazi flag sticking out of one of the buildings. Or maybe it's a normal flag inside a model village? Working together, the two versions of Ben Grimm work together to defeat The Red Skull and free what's left of the planet from his rule. As our version of The Thing heads back to the Time Machine (which, John Byrne suggests, may not be a time machine at all, but instead a device to cross over into alternate dimensions) his counterpart reassures him that the end of the world wasn't his fault at all. This version of Galactus travelled solo, without a herald, so there was no Silver Surfer around to help defeat him. Phew, that's a relief! The story ends with The Thing back home in the Baxter Building, musing on the fact that, what with one thing and another, he's probably better off not being cured but still having Alicia, his friends, and his life as a superhero, rather than being a normal human being living in a blighted wasteleand. I'd have added "access to medicine, shops and telly" to that list of pros, but I think he might have a point!
Next time another brief glimpse of Doom as we stick with John Byrne for the first issue of The Thing's new solo series!
link to information about this issue
posted 20/10/2020 by Mark Hibbett
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