Marvel Two-in-One #2

by Harlan Ivester on January 24, 2018

Marvel Two-in-One #2
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inkers: John Dell, Walden Wong, & Jim Cheung
Colorist: Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics

            As someone unfamiliar with most of Chip Zdarsky’s work, I wasn’t sure what to make of him being on what’s left of Marvel’s first family. What I read of his current Spectacular Spider-Man run, I wasn’t crazy about. I felt like he was trying too hard to make the wall crawler funny in a way that’s more Deadpool’s wheel house, although I hear that the series has been great since around issue five. So, issue one of Marvel Two-in-One kind of blew me away with how much it made me feel for the Thing and Human Torch. Issue two doesn't pack quite as much emotional punch, but I think we’re all just happy to see Ben and Johnny having their own adventure again. Mild spoilers incoming.

            I normally talk about the writing first, but since this issue immediately starts with a great splash page of Ben thinking, I figured I’ll start with that. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but the art team here has done something great with such a simple idea. Colorist Frank Martin really, really shines in the first page. Ben (or a sculpture of Ben) is in a Thinker pose, with shadows on his face and light behind him. It feels like the light and dark are symbolic of the guilt he feels in trying to do good when he lies to Johnny in the last issue. It’s immediately captivating and thought-provoking. They take advantage of the setting when they can to give some remarkable vistas. Sunset at Monster Island is truly something to behold. When they move into a cave, the visual appeal shifts from the setting to the action as Doom’s magic and science take the spotlight. Quite literally, this book is a real looker from beginning to end.

            Speaking of Doom, his dialogue feels off. I mean, it’s very Doom, so why is it off? Because it’s a little too Doctor Doom. Most of the redeemed Doom that we’ve all seen has been in the pages of an Iron Man book. In those, he’s been confronted by Ben multiple times and met him with a reluctance to fight. He’s tried to befriend him and be the better person, and admitted that he now admires Reed. He genuinely felt like a good guy trying to do better and make up for his past. Here, he feels more like a bad guy who’s refraining from doing bad for whatever reason. He’s very condescending and enjoys seeing Ben and Johnny struggle, even if he steps in to help. He’s trash talking Reed again. The best way I can put it is that it feels more like Doctor Doom than Infamous Iron Man. Both Victor Von Doom, but in different ways. Everyone else feels in line with how they were before. This issue checks off the humor box with a very meta conversation about a Fantastic Four comic in which the remaining two members go on a goose chase for the missing ones. It hits the emotional beats of last issue with Ben reminiscing about he and Reed pulling a prank on Doom, serving as a great reminder that before they were super heroes, these were relatively normal people who went to school together, making them a little more relatable.

            With promises of much thinking in the next issue, I’m excited to see where this goes. We’ve all been missing the Fantastic Four since Marvel tried to make us forget they existed, so I’m happy to see them let off and embrace them instead in a way that still respects the series of events that led to Reed and Sue’s absence. Chip Zdarsky has shown me that he’s certainly capable of great things with only two issues, and I suspect it’s only going to get better from here on. Keep on reading this one.

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