112. Battle of the Behemoths

Issue One Hundred and Twelve, July 1971

Issue One Hundred and Twelve, July 1971

Hold your fire! Don’t waste your ammo! If we’re lucky, they’ll finish each other off!

SUMMARY
The Hulk attacks a rampaging Ben Grimm. Reed tries to help but finds the electricity abruptly gets turned off by their landlord, trying to evict them. He gets Johnny to provide power for his machines instead. Meanwhile, Ben and the Hulk fight. Meanwhile, Sue is with Agatha Harkness, protecting Franklin. Seeing the media’s reaction to the fight, Agatha uses her magical powers to show Sue what is happening in the Baxter Building. She decides to rush back to New York. Meanwhile, Ben and the Hulk are fighting. Alicia hears of the fight on the radio and decides to go and find Ben. Meanwhile, Ben and the Hulk are fighting. Alicia arrives and a piece of smashed masonry hits her on the head. Reed finally finishes his device and Johnny flies him out to the fight scene, to find a prone Ben Grimm. Apparently he looked away at the wrong moment and the Hulk clocked him. The last scene shows Bruce Banner slinking guiltily away as Johnny blames Reed for killing Ben by taking too long on his inventing.

COMMENTARY
This issue should be a fun action slug-out, but the other elements of the story get in the way. Whereas the last Hulk vs Thing story was a mostly tense and character-driven┬áplot, this one completely lacks charm and logic.112poppaFor a start, the irrational aggression that Ben displays is completely matched by every other male character in the comic — from Reed snapping at Johnny, to Johnny leaping out the window determined to use his flame against Ben and the Hulk, to J Jonah Jameson explosive rant on TV (why TV?), to the irate landlord, to the mad picketers outside the Baxter Building. Everyone is shown shouting and gesticulating angrily at each other. What a wonderful development it would have been if Ben’s area of effect was expanding, or the Psycho-Man was behind all of the anger. Agatha Harkness, Sue, and Alicia are the only ones not affected, but then they don’t really do anything anyway. Accept for Alicia who for some reason feels it put upon her to rush into the middle of a super-powered throw-down. Still, that makes marginally more sense than Johnny yelling at Reed for killing Ben because he didn’t stop the Hulk soon enough.

112culpa copyThere is also a niggle with the art, which is that although the action is well-portrayed and the Hulk is very realistic, the Thing looks overly cartoonish. In fact, that aspect characterizes the central fault of the whole issue — every character in it is better portrayed than the members of the Fantastic Four themselves.

EVALUATION: 4/10

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