The Thing’s fiancée, Pt. 2Posted: 07/07/2013
When we left off on Friday, the Thing (Ben Grimm) and Deb Green just got engaged. Happiness ensues, and the two begin to plan the rest of their life together. A rare happy ending in the plethora of superhero tragedy.
I could end the article right here. Except for one little problem I brought up last time. That and about twenty images left. Remember Deb’s ex-boyfriend Jason? He was that dude with obnoxiously long hair, and angry that Deb started dating a rock monster, Jason decided to go public with details of her past. Being a teacher from Brooklyn, her dirt isn’t terribly dirty, but she is a celebrity now. And you know how we treat celebrities.
He’s lying. Deb knows it. Ben knows it. The world knows it. But y’see, it’s not his accusations that make this part important — it’s how the Thing reacts to the accusations. Hint: not well.
The following two pages give Ben more of a beating than any number of Doctor Dooms could ever hope. Y’know, because it’s an emotional dressing down on live TV.
I want to believe this scene happened for two reasons. First, to showcase Deb as not just another supporting character — as in who cares that the Thing’s marrying some ordinary girl? Well, there’s a strength within her that normal ladies don’t possess, and it’s that strength that attracted the Thing to her in the first place. Probably. More importantly, have you realized the Thing doesn’t wear shoes? Like ever? Even on television shows?
Anyway, Ben has to apologize, because the Marvel universe firmly stands against bullying.
Unlike superheroes with secret identities, the bad guys know who the Fantastic Four are, where they live, who they’re dating, and what they’re doing most of the time. No secrets in the genius business.
I think we underestimate the power of the Thing. The dude can lift over a hundred tons, about ten times the strength of Spider-Man. He can run a good twenty-four hours before getting tired. The guy’s rock body can withstand anything from a punch from the Hulk to a range of severe heat and cold. While by no means invincible (the Thing has died and been resurrected before), his superpowers can make him devastatingly powerful compared to superheroes without his degree of strength, much less civilians.
If Ben loses his temper, which happens far more often than comfortable, the damage he can cause could be catastrophic. How can Deb feel safe around that? Well, I assume the continuing declaration of Ben’s love for her certainly helps. That and despite everything I’ve just said, the Thing’s a gentle giant — after all, the Thing does live with Reed and Sue’s two young children, who adore him above all else. We as readers can suspend our disbelief that cosmic rays turned the Thing into an orange rock monster, but we would never buy that he’d actually hurt the people he cares about. Which is also the same reason the next scene has to happen.
At least the Thing wears shoes to his wedding. So I usually read the comics I write about three or four times each. Once for the initial reading, again when I convert the pages into jpegs, a third time as I write the first draft, and a fourth as I edit for the final article. And every time, this next scene destroys me. Ruins me.
Underneath the Thing’s jovial personality lies a thick goo of self-loathing. The guy’s a rock monster against his will, after all. I mean, Luke Cage gets the unbreakable skin and super strength all while still keeping his dashing good looks. But poor Ben Grimm must suffer his skin condition to be the superhero he knows he needs to be. And so when you think of a list of superheroes who deserve to be happy — I’m talking who’ve truly earned the right to be loved — the Thing’s name pops up immediately. And let’s not even get into his horrible childhood either.
But as Ben’s been fighting the good fight for roughly a decade and a half, he understands the world he lives in. As much as he deserves Deb’s love, a superhero’s wife isn’t the lifestyle wished upon anybody. If only because with the superhero must also come the supervillains.
Along with the four superheroes brought up above — Daredevil’s girlfriend Karen Page, Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy, Bruce Banner’s wife Betty Ross, and Namor’s wife Lady Dorma — the sheer amount of women who have died because of their relationship with superheroes is staggering. Just with a quick bit of research we have Professor X’s girlfriend Moira McTaggert, Green Lantern’s girlfriend Alex DeWitt, Flash’s wife Iris West, Captain Britain’s girlfriend Courtney Ross, Batman’s girlfriend Kathy Kane, etc., and that doesn’t even include the children such as Arsenal’s daughter Lian Harper and Aquaman’s son Arthur Curry Jr.
Frustratingly, the Thing knows all this. Every last detail. And that’s why he can’t get married.
As for the Thing? He’ll bounce back, because like his rocky exterior, he has no other choice.