Ben Grimm, aka The Thing. Artist: Jack Kirby.


Original Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1961
Creator: Stan Lee (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)
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Like the other members of The Fantastic Four, The Thing (aka Ben Grimm) was introduced in 1961, as one of a quartet of adventurers who rode an …

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… experimental rocket through a patch of cosmic rays and emerged with super powers. In his case, it was enormous strength, and it came with a price — his body mutated into a monster-like form that completely belied the heroic heart within.

For years, Fantastic Four team leader Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) applied his scientific expertise to the attempt to return Ben to human form, but nothing he tried would work for very long. The situation was complicated when Ben fell in love with a blind woman, Alicia Masters (daughter of one of the group's early villains, The Puppet Master). Alicia, oblivious of his appearance, knew only that his face felt powerful, yet kind. During his brief recursions to human form, Alicia found his face not nearly as pleasant to touch. Alicia helped Ben become reconciled to his appearance, and he eventually stopped hoping to change back.

The Human Torch, easily the most visually impressive of The Fantastic Four, took an early lead in popularity. But Ben's personal tragedy eventually won the hearts of readers, and he pulled ahead in the fan polls. By 1964, he was sharing The Torch's series in Strange Tales. Later, he got a comic of his own, of sorts — Marvel Two-in-One teamed him up with a different Marvel character every month, starting in 1974. In 1983, it was cancelled in favor of a comic he could star in all by himself. The Thing ran from 1983-86.

Along with the rest of The Fantastic Four, The Thing appeared in animated form in 1967 and 1978. In addition, a character sort of based on him held down a show of his own, produced by Hanna-Barbera, in the late 1970s. In this version, a teenager would transform himself into the super-powered Thing by using a magic ring. This version was short-lived, and is mercifully forgotten today.

Like all of the original members of Marvel's Fantastic Four, The Thing has left the group from time to time. During one such absence, he had a year's worth of adventures on a distant planet. During another, he became a member of the West Coast branch of The Avengers. He's also been with The Defenders. But also like all, he keeps coming back to The Fantastic Four, and can still be seen as a part of that group, in new adventures every month.


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Text ©2000 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.