Come with us to Yancy Street as we drill down on BEN GRIMM, THE THING! Why does a man so smart tawk like dis? Listen now to find out!
- Upcoming interview with Allen & Will from Pocus Hocus – giveaway on IG – follow us there for more info
- Background (3:00)
- Ben Grimm (The Thing) created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)
- Ben Grimm is a pilot and college friend of Reed Richards
- While flying an experimental rocketship with Richards, Richards’ girlfriend Sue Storm, and Sue’s brother Johnny aboard, the ship is bombarded with cosmic rays, which irreversibly alter all four travelers – Ben’s body becomes covered in an orange, rocky hide – he dubs himself the Thing
- Reed attempts several times to reverse his transformation, but is unable to make it permanent – Ben does revert back to human on occasion though (largely through magical means)
- Had a starring role in Marvel Two-in-One alongside various heroes
- Stays on Battleworld after Secret Wars, because the planet provides him the ability to change at will – She-Hulk joins the FF in his stead, until he returns after defeating an evil version of himself
- Upon returning, he discovers that his on-again/off-again love Alicia Masters is dating Johnny Storm – this Alicia is later revealed to be a Skrull named Lyja #BecauseComics
- Ben and Sharon Ventura are hit with cosmic rays – Sharon becomes She-Thing, while Ben becomes more powerful and rocky
- Recurring stories for Ben involve the Yancy Street gang where he grew up – at various points they’ve been rivals and partners, with Ben even leading the gang at one point during his earlier years
- Joins the New Avengers after Seige, serving on both teams simultaneously
- Recently married Alicia, although their honeymoon was interrupted by a rampaging Hulk (under the control of the Puppet Master, Alicia’s father)
- Issues (10:07)
- Insecurity and self-loathing. It’s been his chief, most famous character-defining trait since his inception. He’s horrified by his physical appearance and thinks it makes him a monster both inside and out. He’s just one of those people that doesn’t feel like he deserves anything good in life no matter how much he does as a hero. As such, he’s often at the root of sabotaging his own happiness, particularly in his romantic relationships. He thinks that by pushing the people closest to him away, he’s protecting them from disappointment and pain, but — as I had to learn in my early 20s — that’s something people just do instinctively when they think very little of themselves. “Life Story” would go into this a little deeper and we’d learn he was a lot like this before he became the Thing. The war keeps changing thanks to Marvel’s sliding timescale, but he’s not particularly proud of the things he did overseas in the Marines, and just doesn’t generally feel like he’s someone worthy of being loved. He also frequently turns down cures to his condition, making up some dumb excuse about the team needing him or another.
- Inadequacy; always feeling second best. This was way more prevalent in the Lee/Kirby years, but man, the fact that there are heroes like Thor and the Silver Surfer in the world, who are canonically stronger than he is but look like classic art masterpieces come to life just eats at him. And of course, there’s the Hulk. Oh boy, he does not like being compared with the Hulk. His whole “I’ve got more heart than anyone else” thing and relying on willpower to carry him through fights is great for storytelling, but he’s not top tier in strength in the Marvel universe, and he’s well aware of the fact. (19:08)
- Playing dumb, for…some reason. Ben is not dumb muscle. Not even close. You don’t get to be a test pilot in any branch of the military or an astronaut in NASA without being several standard deviations above average intelligence. The man has multiple advanced degrees in engineering and can fix pretty much anything mechanical or electrical that breaks down, even when it’s a one of a kind invention of Reed’s. He can instinctively pilot just about any vehicle he comes across, even if it’s alien and he has no idea how it works. But for whatever reason, he seems to purposely cultivate an image of being the team’s dumb guy with his gruff, matter-of-fact, Lower East Side manner of speaking. With his enemies, I get it. It’s useful to be underestimated. But among friends and other superheroes, where there’s no need for it? I don’t get it. (29:29)
- Break (42:15)
- Plugs for BetterHelp, Into the Knight, and Jeremy Whitley
- Treatment – theme is hard outer shell/rough edges (43:54)
- In-universe – Being comfortable with his own skin
- Out of universe – (47:52)
- Skit (55:40)
- Hello Mr. Thing, I’m Dr. Issues. – Aw please, call me Ben.
- Alright Ben, how are you doing today? – Well doc, I got this crick in my neck that I just can’t seem ta
- *interrupting* whoa, whoa, I’m not that kind of doctor. -I’m just messin with ya. Sheesh, I heard you could take a joke.
- *laughs* of course, of course. I just didn’t expect that from the start. Way to throw me off. -No harm, right? I don’t get a chance ta talk to someone like you one on one. People like you just run away from an orange pile o’ rocks.
- I don’t condone that kind of self-talk. Did I say a word when you came in other than to greet you? I meant it. -Come ahhhhhhn…not even a little reaction?
- Well, I’m human, so…wait, are you fishing for me to say something? -Maybe, what’s it to ya?
- *pause* So you wanted to come across as one of the guys, but then you had to point out what makes you different. I’m perplexed already. -I get that a lot. Gotta admit, seein’ an orange guy with a fugly mug don’t do favors with subtlety. I ain’t Shakespeare ya know.
- There you go again…in record time, you manage to drop more insults about yourself. -You ain’t coming across as warm and fuzzy, either, pal.
- I’m sorry…it’s just…I get defensive with patients because I’ve heard my fair share of depressed talk, and my gut is to fight it, tooth and nail. You, just like everyone else, are worthy of love and respect. Even if you don’t have hope for that, I’ll have it for you. -*sarcastic* Well golly gee, doesn’t that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I ain’t a sad sack case, doc.
- I’m acknowledging your defense mechanisms because they’re so common…more than you know. -Well, sometimes the best defense is a strong offense. That’s what people come to expect.
- I don’t have expectations. I just have a questioning attitude. I don’t want to bombard you with too much too quickly, but you’re going to have to touch on some things that you may not want to really talk about at the moment. -Like what?
- Well, since you led with it, let’s start with the elephant in the room. How do you feel about your appearance? -It’s there.
- *pause* Go on… -Look, I dropped the hints, the jokes, you know the answer, all right? I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it. But so what? Bad cards, man. Bad cards. Ya gotta make the best of it. And lucky for me, Alicia happens ta like it. I don’t know what she… I was gonna say I don’t know what she sees in me, but she’s blind, so she can’t see anything in me hehehe.
- Then what does she love about you? – Ta be honest, some days I don’t know. It’s one of the great mysteries of life. But I feel lucky just to know her, and the fact that she coulda been wit any guy and she picked me… well, some days that’s what it takes ta get me outta bed in the morning.
- I don’t think you’ll appreciate it as much coming from me, but your personality as a whole shines through whatever physical form you may have. You have gravitas -Gravi…wha? Come on, don’t get fancy on me. You’ll start soundin like Stretch. He starts talking over ya head, and I get a cure for insomnia. I’m just a plain ol’ guy tryin ta make it through the day.
- You’re really entrenched in this style, huh? -You makin fun a how I talk?
- NO! I mean, you downplay everything about yourself, except the one thin…PART, that everyone can see. Is it to avoid attention? Consequences? What? -Look, I’m not into all sorts of psychobabble, but think about what you’re sayin. I get to be wit some really good people. Susie is the most selfless person you’ll ever meet. Flame Boy grinds my gears, but I’ll be damned, his intensity has saved our ass a million times. Then you got the genius that makes the whole shebang go. Who am I to them, huh? Who am I to anybody?
- This may sound dumb to say, but…forget for a split second who you are to them. Who are you…to YOU? -*pause* That’s hard, doc. That’s not how life is supposed to be.
- What do you mean? -You keep pushin me ta make some kinda breakthrough, and all I’m getting is vapor cone.
- I’m sorry, what? – Vapor cone is where an object traveling at hypersonic or supersonic speeds reduces the air pressure immediately surrounding itself. That drop in air pressure creates a corresponding drop in temperature. If the air is saturated with water, and the drop in temperature goes below the saturation temperature, it will form an instantaneous cloud around the object, because the air pressure drop is so sudden that the water can’t move out of the way. Ya see it in planes when they hit Mach 1.
- *pause* Thank you for teaching me something new….especially something that’s outside of my particular reading. That was…BEYOND unexpected. -*sarcastic* Oh, ya make me blush.
- Take a compliment, please! You just showed more of yourself than I expected in one session. You managed to take a chance. You are more than you let on. I’m being a bit selfish when I say your goal should be to educate naive people like me in the areas you shine at. Don’t shy away, I’m practically begging you. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be with that part of yourself. – Look, Doc, the truth is, I know what I bring ta the table. Reed’s the brains, Susie’s the heart, and Johnny’s the mouth. Someone’s gotta be the muscle. And yeah, I know I can come off a little rough around the edges, literally an’ figuratively. But there’s nothing wrong wit’ being what people expect of ya, as long as yer ok wit it. And for all my talk, I gotta lotta friends. A lotta people who’d lay down their lives, and many have, ta save my hide. So I’m grateful every day for every single one of ‘em. It’s gotten me this far, I don’t see any reason ta rock the boat now.
- Fair enough. Just be mindful that…literally and figuratively, you’re going to make waves with everyone you meet because you’re a big orange rock.. You can control the impact. – Hardy har har. I guess you can make a joke after all.
- It’s a joke, even if it’s not a fantastic one. – Aw jeez…
- Ending (62:32)
- Recommended reading: Literally any Fantastic Four run
- Next episodes: Pocus Hocus interview, Alex Summers, Echo
- Plugs for social
- Here’s Looking At You, Kid – Casablanca – Anthony (17:52)
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