Issue by Issue – Marvel Two-In-One #21

Writer – Bill Mantlo
Artist – Ron Wilson
Inker – Pablo Marcos
Colours – Janice Cohen
Letters – Karen Mantlo

Bill Mantlo presents a tale that finds the Thing teaming up with one of the greatest heroes of yesteryear – Doc Savage. It begins in a most novel way with Mantlo simultaneously beginning duel stories, one in the present and one in the past. Both start out with the arrival of a mysterious woman on the doorstep of the respective heroes who star in this issue. From that moment on, each tale is strikingly similar to the other as each woman relates their woes and the reader soon learns that they are indeed related to the other, one the mother and the other her daughter. It is a family tragedy that unfolds, a story about a man obsessed with his creation and a concerned wife followed by a son who cannot help but tread in his father’s footsteps with a sister fearful for his sanity. Both the Thing and Doc Savage listen intently and decide that they will do all they can to prevent the Lightner men from causing any sort of calamity, whether to themselves or others. This very unique tale is brought to sumptuous life by Ron Wilson with some great panel layouts to accommodate Mantlo’s time-tossed epic. That being said, there is some time travel involved once again, for there is no way the two heroes could team up otherwise and it all culminates with the introduction of a new villain named Blacksun. Good to see is the involvement of not only the Human Torch in this book, but some of Doc Savage’s supporting cast including Monk and Renny who definitely add to the events going on and make it all that much more entertaining. The best part of the book is that final act where everything and everyone comes together, the action picking up substantially and the two heroes finally meeting each other under circumstances that are not exactly ideal. Mantlo and Wilson create a credible threat in Blacksun and when it all looks like it is going south, just when the villain is about to pull out a win, he is defeated – not by those against him, but by his own folly. Despite the slow start, the story was still quite exciting as Mantlo started to build the tension up right from the get-go and it was wondering just how and why the heroes would meet up that kept the reader hooked. By far, this was one of the more interesting team-ups to take place in this title thus far.

4 out of 5

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