In Marvel Two-in-One #8, Johnny figures it out. Can Ben handle the consequences? Can you? Is it good?
Johnny Storm and Benjamin Grimm, the surviving half of the prime universe’s Fantastic Four, have been stranded on this version of Battleworld for weeks now. Maybe months. Selfish scientist Rachna Koul, who brought them on this wild chase, has absconded with the multisect, dragging Dr. Doom, the pair’s self-appointed protector, along with her.
The first shoe to drop: With Reed Richards and Sue Storm gone for so long, Johnny and Ben have completely lost their powers. Good for Ben, who gets looks from diner waitresses, not so much for Johnny, who forgets he can’t touch hot things anymore.
The second: After going to one of the smartest people in the world for help zeroing in on Reed and Sue’s signatures, Johnny finally smartens up himself. They’re not out there. Hope you’re ready for this, Ben. And ready for the sinister arrival of … a NEW Fantastic Four?!
Marvel Two-in-One #8 is one of the most emotional stories you’ll read this year. “It’s all been building to this,” you could say — all of Ben’s deception while trying to do the right thing, others warning him when they figure out what’s going on — all while Johnny’s in the dark, until now. As you might expect, his reaction is not positive.
And the moment it dawns on him, back turned to Ben and looking down, is a legitimate gasping, heart-sinking moment for the reader. Writer Chip Zdarsky has come a long way since Howard the Duck.
So MAN is it SUPER disappointing that there isn’t a different artist here. The first six issues of Marvel Two-in-One were drawn by
The more cartoony style of Ramón K. Pérez just doesn’t fit this kind of story. It’s too hard to discern important moments, like the first time we see Johnny get burned, and there’s very little motion conveyed in what should have been a much more gripping throwdown between Johnny and Ben. Federico Blee does a heroic job with the colors, though, creating an inviting, down home atmosphere with his pastels that’s still somehow otherworldly.
Marvel Two-in-One #8 is a masterclass in narrative storytelling from Chip Zdarsky. Just when you think, “How long can Ben drag this out?” his effort is undone and the s--t hits the fan in the most uncomfortable, satisfying way possible.
And the bandages on Johnny’s hands! Look what he does to save a precious possession at the end of the fight! There are a ton of little details here (some in the dialogue, too) that reward the attentive reader and set a more immersive stage. The tag on the last page even keeps the story moving, not letting Two-in-One rest on its laurels.
I wish I could rate this issue a 9 or even a 9.5, but the incongruous art just doesn’t make that possible. It’s disappointing, but it shouldn’t dissuade readers from following this heartfelt, adventurous tale wherever Zdarsky wants to take it.