Thing (Vol. 1) #5

Story 'With Friends Like These...'

  Thing (Vol. 1) #5
Summary: Spider-Man Appears, She Hulk, Wonder-Man
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Writer: John Byrne
Pencils: Ron Wilson
Inker: Hilary Barta
Articles: Jarvis

Ben leaves the hospital after checking on Alicia, who was beaten by Annihilus when he attacked Earth. He hails a taxi and instructs the driver to take him to the Baxter Building. Ben blames himself for Alicia's injuries due to the simple fact she's dating someone with very powerful enemies. As the cab drops Ben off, a shadowy figure hidden in an alley across the street is planning revenge against him for his involvement with his child. Sounds like the Puppet Master.

Ben enters the building and sees Wonder Man standing at the elevator. He is glad to see him and asks him what brings him to New York. Wonder Man replies that he called him half an hour ago. Thing replies that somebody must have played a prank on him because he didn't call him. At that point Wonder Man goes into a trance-like state and punches the Thing through the outer wall. And several automobiles. And a fruit stand. Wonder Man then continues their fight outside in complete silence. The Thing doesn't understand why his friend is attacking him, but does defend himself.

Realizing that Wonder Man isn't strong enough to beat the Thing, Puppet Master calls She-Hulk at Avengers mansion, posing as the Thing. He tells her that he needs her help at the Baxter Building. She-Hulk immediately recognizes that the caller is not the Thing as he claims and hangs up. As a precaution she checks their monitoring system and learns of a disturbance near the Baxter Building. She quickly leaves to check into it.

Back at the Baxter Building, the Thing has finally knocked out Wonder Man. When She-Hulk arrives, she enters the same trance-like state and attacks the Thing. The Puppet Master observes their fight and realizes that She-Hulk can't defeat him either.

At this point the Puppet Master steps slightly out of the shadows to reveal a new shape-shifting ability as he take the form of his next victim - Spider-Man. Puppet Master directs him to the Baxter Building and attacks the Thing through him. Spider-Man is defeated quickly as were Wonder Man and She-Hulk since the Puppet Master can't utilize their abilities properly.

At this point the Thing realizes who's responsible and calls the Puppet Master out. Puppet Master refuses to give in and takes control of the gathering crowd and attacks once more. The Thing then shows Puppet Master his own brand of crowd control by binding them with lampposts or locking them in nearby cars.

The Puppet Master makes a final, desperate move and morphs into a copy of the Thing and tries to possess him directly. The fatigue of fighting for hours has caught up with him and is easily overtaken. The Puppet Master announces his intention to wreck the Thing's reputation by causing extensive property damage and killing as many people as possible.

General Comments

Overall I was pleased with this issue. I'm not sure if this marks the first appearance of the updated Puppet Master with shape-shifting ability or not. In either case the change works. I hope that an explanation for this is given next issue as this issue was noticeably lacking any editorial footnotes on that subject.

The only real complaint that I have is the major tip-off for this issue's villain so early in the story. You have to have some knowledge of the Fantastic Four to pick up on that, so casual readers might not know that.

Overall Rating

3 webs. Very straightforward, but entertaining. The issue was a series of fights, but it was handled well and made for an enjoyable read.

Footnote

Annihilus invaded Earth in Fantastic Four #251 and attacked Alicia in issue #255.