Issue by Issue – Marvel Two-In-One #22

Writer – Bill Mantlo
Artist – Ron Wilson
Inker – Pablo Marcos
Colours – Don Warfield
Letters – Karen Mantlo

Continuing straight off of the last issue, Blacksun, the villain that Ben and Doc Savage faced in a time-tossed tale, lies dead and his sister is beside herself with grief. Johnny Storm is especially stricken by the fallen villain at their feet, not used to the loss of life despite the many battles with all of the bad guys he has faced over the years. Ben seems fine and accepts it for what it is, but Johnny knows there is something he can do and in a moment of utter brilliance and scientific thinking, something completely out of character for the Human Torch, he comes up with an idea that may yet save Blacksun and return him to his family. There are few moments in a book that one can call misstep when written by Bill Mantlo, but this was indeed one of them. It did not necessarily pull one out of the story and it is not as if Johnny Storm is a dumb guy, but there is no way he could have come up with what he did unless Reed Richards was there to guide him. As for the rest of the story, it finds a mysterious figure lurking about, looking for Dr. Donald Blake – better known as Thor. That missions soon comes to fruition as that shadowy figure turns out to be Seth, the God of Death, a character that has a beef with Thor and means to do something about it. It is not long afterwards that Thing and the Human Torch finally return to New York City and to the very hospital where Blake works and end up getting involved with the fight between the two gods. Mantlo and his partner in crime end the book on a cliff-hanger, promising a continuation of the battle and quite possibly, the return of Blacksun, that is should Thor survive the conflict. The book is packed full of action once it hits its final act with Ron Wilson at the top of his game and it could not look any better. It is always a little inspiring to see the Thing go up against villains that are clearly bigger, badder and far more powerful than he is, yet the man never gives up, continuing to fight even when the odds are against him. One of the only drawbacks to the entire issue is the fact that Ben Grimm was not featured just a little bit more considering that it is his title, but from a storytelling standpoint, it did make sense. Also good to see is that the storylines are starting to flow a little more easily from one issue to the next, though most of the books can still be read on their own without having to read anything else. A truly fun tale from Mantlo and Wilson, a creative team that continues to get better with every adventure they take together.

4 out of 5

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