Make mine Marvel Two-in-One
I might have been wringing my hands and grumbling about the endless series of reboots and major events as Marvel Legacy approaches had the company not won me over with a one-two punch right to the nostalgia.
Of the 53 ongoing titles announced, one is a revival of my favorite series, “Marvel Two-In-One,” in which the Thing teamed up with a rotating cast of guest stars. That would have been enough, but the slew of one-shots tacking another issue onto canceled series includes “Darkhawk” #51.
“Marvel Two-in-One” debuted in 1974, before I was born. But thanks to flea markets, bargain bins and those magnificent “Essential” collections, I discovered the magic of this title, published at a time when comics were getting a little more serious but still contained a lot of the wonder and fun that made them appeal to kids.
The series started off with the Thing stranded in the Southwest following a cosmic event. Instead of going home to New York, he takes a bus to Florida to address the monstrous Man-Thing’s perceived infringement on his name.
Next we meet Wundarr, a Superman analog, who grew to adulthood while being rocketed to Earth but still has the mind of a toddler. At story’s end, the Thing’s team-up partner, Namor, leaves the alien in his care. Ben Grimm is just about the only superhero something like this would happen to, but he takes the responsibility, as shown over the next few issues.
The first eight issues were written by Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber, culminating in the utterly bizarre tale where Ghost Rider and the Thing team up to stop an obscure Fantastic Four villain from recreating the Nativity on Christmas Eve at an American Indian reservation.
The series ran for 100 issues, teaming Grimm with everyone from his Fantastic Four teammates to obscure characters like the Living Mummy, Blue Diamond and Skull the Slayer, whose eight-issue series was given a bit of closure in “Marvel Two-in-One.”
The early focus of the new series (for which a creative team had not been announced when I wrote this) seems to be about the Thing and Human Torch dealing with life without the rest of the FF post-“Secret Wars.” While I initially worried it would be a buddy book with that duo (which would be good but not the same) the numerous other characters on the cover seem to signal a rotating format.
Hopefully it keeps the fun elements, and the series can be a showcase for lesser-known characters and those whose stories were curtailed by poor sales figures, as well as the obligatory Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy appearances.
Maybe one of the team-ups will be with Darkhawk, who’s only slated for a single issue so far.
Darkhawk is teenager Chris Powell, who discovered an amulet that let him switch bodies with an armored warrior figure who could glide (and later fly) and shoot an energy shield from his chest. He also sported a grappling hook that looked suspiciously like a Wolverine claw. He was very ’90s and remains one of my favorite characters.
A few years back, Darkhawk got a boost in the “Nova” series and an origin revamp for the “War of Kings” event, but it didn’t take. He’s since popped up in series like “Avengers Arena,” but with the Fraternity of Raptors (from which his alter ego came) playing a role in the “All-New Guardians of the Galaxy” series, I’m hoping Darkhawk will stick around a little longer this time.
Now, if they would bring back Sleepwalker…
Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group.”