The Thing #1

Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Money Changes Everything

Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Andrea DiVito
Colored by: Laura Villari
Lettered by: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Having previously covered GLA #1, I can tell you that reviewing the inaugural issue of a Dan Slott book can be a maddening thing. He clearly loves comics, silliness, logic flaws, weird continuity, and all. There is little doubt that that love translates into a great understanding of most of the characters he tackles. And that thrills me.

Yet, he also seems often content to go for the too easy joke or gag and sacrifices some of the strength of his narrative to do so. I saw that in GLA #1 (a problem that was rectified in subsequent issues) and I see that here as well.

Take the villain of the piece, for instance. Slott brings in a (sort of) classic villain who is often more silly than menacing and makes it work. However, how he gets there involves a socialite with a small dog. The socialite’s name: Milan Ramada. It’s obvious he simply took Paris Hilton and then thought, “Paris is a European fashion conscious city. Oooh, so is Milan. And Ramada is another hotel chain. DONE!” It is not funny or witty, it is groan worthy and, to me, feels like he is trying too hard for a laugh.

Similar is the Martha Stewart analogue that Ben and his lady later encounter. It allows Slott to pull of a great sly joke about white collar criminals not being real criminals and a neat fate for all of Alicia Masters’ Thing statues. Again, though, the obviousness of who “Irma Roberts” really is and having Ben say, “It’s a good thing” (Martha Stewart’s “catch phrase”) feels obvious and too “wink-wink nudge-nudge, do you get it?” especially when Slott can and does write some often effortlessly funny dialogue.

Concepts that did work for me, however, were plentiful. Cauldron is a villain that nicely fits Slott’s tone: strong and unique enough to last a few panels but not dark or terrifying. Appearances by Goliath (the non-Pym, Hawkeye, or Atlas version), Nighthawk, Iron Man, Peter Parker, Mary Jane Parker, and several others nicely captures the feel of the Marvel Universe and all its inherent crossing paths. Plus, it lets Slott crack wise about the luck of certain supposedly luckless wall crawler (see, that is the effortless funny I mentioned). I also really appreciate how Slott makes use of certain new concepts to the Marvel U (Spider-Man living in the Avengers Tower, Ben’s newfound wealth) without feeling the need to tell us exactly how, when, or why this happened. I know some point to that as being scary for new readers, but I remember that when I was first reading comics, this is how they did it. I feel like it acknowledges that the audience is intelligent enough to either look around to find out how these things happened or is enjoying the story enough not to be concerned with it. A lot of comics do not do that anymore so I appreciate those that do.

One aspect of the issue that I will say I endorse unequivocally is DiVito’s art. He draws an excellent Thing, just dead on, which is obviously a strong feature for this book. However, his level of detail and depiction throughout the book is applause worthy. The pages look deep and intricate without being confusing or muddled and convey action without being overly frantic or chaotic. Heck, he even slips Jennifer Garner into a party scene in a cameo that is there for you to catch but calls no attention to itself. DiVito’s work on Thor last year was good, but I can still see improvements between that and his efforts here. Excellent stuff.