Tuesday, November 13, 2012




Created by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby  First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #1 (1961)

Benjamin Jacob Grimm was born on Yancy Street in the heart of New York City into a poor Jewish family. When Ben was a young kid his older brother, Daniel Grimm, was the leader of the Yancy Street Gang, a group of young trouble makers from the area. After his brother's passing, Ben joined the gang when he was old enough. He was made a member by being "beaten in." Growing up poor along with his gang affiliation and related activities made Ben street-smart, tough and 'hard' very early in life. He would eventually smarten himself up from the street-life, leave the gang (who has constantly heckled him throughout his superhero career) and graduate college with best friend and future leader of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards. Ben was an exceptional athlete and a man with enormous integrity. All of these personality characteristics have served him well throughout his lifetime of brawling and adventuring.

What made the Thing unique was the fact that he was the first superhero who didn't look like a superhero, he looked like a monster. And this didn't sit well with him. He often dwelled on his monstrous appearance, usually trying to make jokes about it to keep his spirits high. Although Ben considered himself deformed, his transformation gave him incredible strength and durability, making him the physical powerhouse of the Fantastic Four and the original "tough-guy" of the Marvel Universe. But these powers did nothing for his self-esteem (despite being loved and respected by most heroes of the world) as he would often wear a trench coat and hat to cover himself up to avoid scaring anyone or people gawking at his appearance.

Although Thing has a gruff disposition, he has a heart of gold. He is widely considered one of the most reliable and dependable characters on Earth that other heroes always seem to call on for back up. He is known as an extraordinary aircraft pilot and great team player, who'll always manage to crack a joke no matter how helpless a situation becomes. Not to mention, he has continually shown to be one of the absolute toughest heroes on the planet. There are not many characters defined more by their sheer determination and willpower than Benjamin J. Grimm! No matter the odds, the stakes or the opposition, the Thing will be showing up and giving it his all. That's the true essence of this character. It didn't matter if Ben won or lost, it was about him showing up and fighting with everything he had until someone dropped. And let's be honest, Bashful Benjy loved a good punch-up more than most. He wasn't beyond starting an "epic" slugfest to get his blood flowing. His ability to brawl it out with the best the Marvel Universe had to offer is legendary. 

And being such a willing participant in a slugfest has made the Thing one of the true icons of the medium. Sure, the Fantastic Four is widely known for their exotic adventures and missions to the farthest reaches of sub-space. But they are also known for pure way-out action, and that is where Benjamin J. Grimm comes in. Yup, Mr. Grimm is easily one of the most exciting and heaviest-hitters on the planet! And some of his "hits" are so revered that they have laid down the foundation of the Marvel Universe. This listing of his 5 greatest brawls are a testament to why Marvel Comics were so ahead of their competition (especially during the Silver Age). So sit back and enjoy the shout of... "It's Clobberin' Time!!"

5.) FANTASTIC FOUR #55 (1966)

Writer: Stan Lee  Art: Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott

With no threats to currently deal with, Ben Grimm arrives at his girlfriend Alicia Master's home in New York. When Ben walks in, he gets startled when he finds that Silver Surfer is already there visiting her. Jealous and enraged about this, Ben attacks the Surfer and knocks him miles from Alicia's home (wrecking it in the process). At first, the Surfer tries to reason with Ben, but the thick-headed brute is so jealous that he keeps attacking. This causes the Surfer to grow angry and begins to fight back. Using his Power Cosmic to enhance his strength, the Surfer will now take on Ben hand-to-hand and slug it out. Despite how strong the Surfer can get, Ben just won't quit and continues his assault (Surfer is also in awe of how truly strong Ben is). The battle soon takes them into the warehouse district of the city. Finally, making an all-out attack, Ben buries the Surfer underneath tons of debris stunning him. Just then, Reed Richards and Sue Storm enter the scene and stop Ben from finishing the fight. Reed talks some sense into Ben and convinces him to help Surfer out of the rubble and to apologize for his actions. Accepting the apology, the Surfer repairs Ben's air-cycle, and creates some flowers for Ben to give to Alicia before departing. Ben feels terrible that he let his insecurities get the best of him.

4.) FANTASTIC FOUR #39 and 40 (1965)

Writer: Stan Lee  Art: Jack Kirby, Frank Giacola and Vince Colletta

Rescued from sea by the crew of a naval submarine, the now powerless Fantastic Four return to New York to try and figure out what to do. Not wanting to give up their adventuring, Reed tries to come up with ways to duplicate the FF's abilities (Ben Grimm controls a mechanical Thing robot), however these facsimiles are far from perfect. Arranging an appointment with their attorney Matt Murdock, Reed arranges that Murdock becomes their power of attorney should anything happen to them. 

Meanwhile, in Latveria, Dr. Doom is entertained by a hypnotist, when exposed to his powers he becomes aware of Reed's previous trick that made him think he had destroy Richards. Furious, Doom travels to New York and takes control of the Baxter building. Attacking the FF with their own devices the group is aided by Matt in his guise of Daredevil (whom the FF are not aware is really their lawyer). The group splits up with each member trying to gain entrance to the Baxter building in their own way, however most of their attempts are rebuffed when Doom uses a different one of the many devices Reed has created. Fighting their way into the Baxter Building, Daredevil goes ahead of the powerless Fantastic Four to keep Dr. Doom busy while Reed and the others try to find a way to stop Doom. Arriving in the Fantastic Fours headquarters, the FF try to help Daredevil as well, but without their powers it is an impossible task. Gaining inspiration, Reed uses the power-stimulator on Johnny, Sue and himself and as his hunch predicted, their powers are restored. However, even their combined powers are not enough to keep Doom at bay and Reed is forced to use the device on Ben, turning him into the Thing again. Angered by his transformation, Ben attacks Doom for a one-on-one slugfest! Despite the armored madman's array of weapons and tricks, Ben is to angry and stubborn to quit! He keeps coming forward and when he finally reaches Doom, he pulverizes the mad-genius as well as heavily damaging Doom's armor in the process. Now, totally humbled and humiliated, Doom is forced to flee. After the battle, depressed that he's the Thing again, and sick of being the "fall guy" of the group, Ben decides to quit the Fantastic Four.


Writer: Tom DeFalco  Art: Ron Wilson and Bob Camp

The Space promoter named Proja goes to Earth collecting the most powerful beings on the planet to fight for the Championship of the Galaxy. Thing, Thor, Doc Samson, Hulk, Colossus, Namor, Sasquatch, and Wonder Man are chosen to confront the Cosmic Elder known as Champion. Champion says that he has been scouring all of the known galaxies for noble adversaries and they must fight him in honorable combat. Despite the fact that some of the heroes refuse to fight him, they have no choice. They must do so or else the planet will be destroyed. 

The heroes then begin to train for their upcoming fight with him, but Doc Samson, who shows terrible fighting skills and Namor, who refuses to fight for anyone never make it to the show and get sent back to their original locations. As Madison Square Garden becomes the location of the battle, planet Earth gets ready for the big event. First up is The Mighty Thor, who gets disqualified for using his hammer, Mjolnir. Then comes The Incredible Hulk, who currently possesses Bruce Banner's brain. But once Banner sees Champion, he loses all control and the "Savage" Hulk comes out and he attacks the Cosmic Elder. Champion refuses to engage in a fight with an unskilled monster and banishes the brute. Sasquatch, Colossus and Wonder Man all fall within one round and Earth's last hope is the Ever-Lovin'-Blue-Eyed-Thing.

Ben says that Champion has been treating them all like a bunch of third rate amateurs and he isn't going to get away with it. When they finally face off, Thing gives Champion his toughest fight ever and actually cracks the Elders ribs in the process. But, by the third round, Thing has suffered through a tremendous beating and stands leaning against the ropes bleeding and drooling. Once the bell rings, he drops to the canvas. The ref says that Thing would never survive a fourth round and is stopping the fight. Champion holds his Championship belt high above his head and says that those he finds worthy are allowed to continue their existence, but that the others must be purified. Champion is about to pass judgement on Earth, but Thing interrupts him and says, “Hold it! This fight ain't over yet… not by a long shot! Ya only won on a technicality! Ya didn't really beat me! Ya’ll never beat me! I’m just too stupid… and ugly… ta know when to quit!” After a full ten seconds of silence, Champion helps Thing to his feet. He says that he knows now that he could never beat Ben Grimm. Champion says that he could crush his bones and break his body, but he could never break his spirit. Champion says that any world that could spawn one like him is the worthiest of all. The Elder then says farewell and tells Ben that they will never meet again, but it's a pity because he would grant him a rematch. Champion disappears and Thing collapses to the mat. The superheroes charge the ring to help their unconscious champion and celebrate his accomplishment.

2.) FANTASTIC FOUR #112 (1971)

Writer: Stan Lee  Art: John Buscema and Joe Sinnott

The legendary heart and determination of the Thing was always shown at its best when he was slugging it out with his toughest sparring partner -- The Incredible Hulk. It was from these frequent "epic" slugfests with ol' Jade Jaws that continued to define him into the readers imagination as someone who would never quit despite how stacked the odds were against him. And this classic "Hulk vs Thing" fight only strengthened the legend of this rivalry into the Marvel-mythos. It's simply another masterpiece that is always in the conversation when talking about one of the greatest slugfests ever. Thanks to Stan Lee's masterful script and dialogue and the immaculate art of John Buscema with Joe Sinnott inks, not many comics can touch the sheer brilliance of this issue.

With the Thing running amok in New York, the Hulk sees him and attacks! They brawl all over the city until the NYPD starts opening fire on them. The Hulk will leap away on a rooftop where he can wait for the Thing to follow him. The Thing meets up with the Hulk on the rooftop once he takes care of the police. And once again the two behemoths engage in another slugfest all over the city causing some major property damage. It finally ends when Grimm's girlfriend, Alicia Masters tries to come to his aide but gets hit on the head by some flying debris and calls out to him. This will make Ben unexpectedly turn around and drop his guard. But with the Hulk still attacking, he knocks out the distracted Thing!

1.) FANTASTIC FOUR #25 and 26 (1964)

Writer: Stan Lee  Art: Jack Kirby and George Bell

Not only is this the Thing's greatest slugfest, it has to be considered the greatest slugfest in Marvel history! If that's not enough praise, it can also be considered the greatest slugfest in the history of the medium (can anyone prove me wrong?). Artist Jack Kirby revolutionized dynamic storytelling to a new level back in the 1940's, but who knew that he would raise the bar once again twenty years later, and this time to unparalleled heights! After this issue hit the newsstands, Jack Kirby was now officially crowned "THE KING OF COMICS" because this is the issue that set the standard of what a superhero slugfest is in comics, cartoons, animated features, movies, everything!!! Never was a battle so grand, so epic, and so influential! It was truly a total game-changer and the reason why a grandiose comic fight is called a "slugfest!" The sense of wonderment that a reader felt taking this all in is something that can never be replicated again. With Stan Lee's brilliant script and dialogue, it represents heroic drama on a level very few comics have ever achieved. There can be no doubt, that "Hulk vs Thing" is arguably the greatest rivalry in the history of comics and this is the issue that made it so. Stan Lee billed this as "The Battle of the Century!" and he was right.

With the Hulk coming to New York to find and smash the Avengers, he is confronted by the Human Torch and the Invisible Girl. After making short work of them, the Thing steps up and takes on the Jade Giant in a battle royal that raged all over the city and shook it to its very core. But in the end, the Hulk's ever-increasing power was too much for the exhausted Thing as he is pounded into submission. After the Hulk runs off to continue his search for the Avengers, Thing crawls back to his feet and will continue his pursuit of the Green Goliath.

So how did Stan Lee and Jack Kirby follow up the biggest fight in comics history? They threw in the Avengers and let the battle become even bigger! Fantastic Four #26 concludes the epic two-part saga of the Hulk fighting the Thing (as well as everyone else). This issue will solidify the Hulk as the first and definitive "team-buster" of the Marvel Universe and the Thing as the toughest S.O.B. this side of Yancy Street. This is more absolute greatness that made the Marvel Silver Age the greatest era ever in comics!

The Thing returns to fight the Hulk again and manages to rest up a little while punching it out with the brute. A hospitalized Johnny Storm will now show up and help out his Fantastic Four teammate. But the Hulk will slam two concrete chunks together causing and shock wave that sends the two heroes flying. This stuns them long enough for the Hulk to escape them and continue his search for the Avengers. While the Hulk arrives at Tony Stark's mansion, the Avengers are waiting for the brute. As the Hulk grabs Rick Jones (who the Hulk think abandoned him for Captain America) a wild fight breaks out. Soon the Thing and the rest of the Fantastic Four join the fight to stop the Hulk. But all the heroes get in each others way as the Hulk manages to escape them with Rick. The Hulk leaps on top of an unfinished building with Rick Jones as all the other heroes are in pursuit of the brute. As the Hulk battles the swarms of heroes, the Thing finally is able to go one-on-one again with him (and he's excited because he knows the television cameras are filming this battle). Both behemoths brawl off the girders with the Thing unfortunately landing in a vat of quick-drying cement. Just before the Hulk was about to pounce on the cement covered Thing, more heroes step in and help him out. Soon the Hulk was driven off, but the excitement and intrigue always remained as fans continued to want more "Hulk vs Thing."

Agree? Disagree? Let's hear it fanboys!!

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John Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, RETRO FAN, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing, runs the Roy Thomas Appreciation Board on Facebook and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John likes to think he's the real Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at johnstretch@live.com or follow him on Instagram at megostretchhulk.