By Chip Zdarsky, Jim Cheung, John Dell, Walden Wong, Frank Martin, and Joe Caramagna
The best thing that has arisen from Marvel Legacy so far has been Marvel Two-In-One, a series whose name is at this point a needless charade. Pure and simple, the Fantastic Four that’s been missing is within these pages. After being gone for so long, it’s heartening to see their comeback succeed in not just its premise, but also its execution. Character introspection, light humor, and a respect to what’s come before, it’s all here to make a highly enjoyable monthly adventure.
The Thing and the Human Torch’s search for a piece of technology leads them to the setting of their first adventure, Monster Island. Of course, the name hints that things get a bit more complicated compared to the standard road trip once they arrive. Chip Zdarsky does lay his brand of humor a little thick in the beginning, taking away from the rest of the book’s relatively natural feeling dialogue. Luckily, it’s quick to pass this slight bump and go right into some action. The camaraderie between Ben and Johnny is easily felt, sure to bring up nostalgic memories. Even if the reader has no history with them, the relationship’s heart stands out. The Fantastic Four being more of a family first and a superhero team second, it’s nice to see this sentiment carried forward even in the smallest of interactions.
Marvel Two-In-One‘s inherent reverence for the past definitely contributes to how organic its narrative feels as it pushes forward. The overall tone can be described as wishful remembrance, equal parts melancholic and happy for what is lost. The issue takes the time to touch on memories from Ben and the missing Reed’s time in college, but uses it to progress the plot in a meaningful way. This in turn is met with the present when the reader develops increasing apprehension for Ben and Johnny, as a secret holding them together threatens in the future to tear them apart. The conflicting nature of these points makes the book compelling to die-hard fans as well as new readers, laying out a web of dramatic set-ups and earned pay-offs.
It wouldn’t be half as good as it is without the efforts of artist Jim Cheung and inkers John Dell and Walden Wong. Along with the continued expressive detail for the facial expressions of the Thing, the action in this issue has an explosive quality that demonstrates the effectiveness of each hero’s powers. It’s more than a little satisfying seeing the Thing throw a monster across a panel with such palpable power. Frank Martin’s colors give Doom’s armor and blasts a similar bombastic display of energy. His also does great work on the flashback scenes, with golden hues marking the optimism of simpler days.
Marvel Two-In-One is still full of heart and promise. As it looks like the series will go a little wilder for its next chapter, it’s safe to say that the good-natured core will remain intact. And with it, some great comics storytelling.