B&B 2-in-1 Round 3: Man-Thing vs. the Flash

Batman and Ben Grimm are tied at 1-1... Time for Round 3!

In the orange corner... weighing in at 19 pages and starring both the Thing and Man-Thing (ha!!), written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Gil Kane and Joe Sinnott, Marvel Two-in-One #1, Vengeance of the Molecule Man!

And in the black corner... weighing in at 25 pages and starring Batman and the Flash, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Carmine Infantino and Charles Paris, Brave and the Bold #67, The Death of the Flash!

Let's get ready to rummmmbllllllle! DING DING DING!

The Stars
The blue-eyed Thing comes upon the most natural reason for a team-up:

Copyright infringement! Still trying to get home from New Mexico, he then proceeds to take his frustration out on a 1880s general store and make a grown man cry. Ben strangely doesn't call in the Fantasticar, but I'll forgive the plot hole just for the sight of the Thing on a bus. Ben seems like the kind of guy who'd have to pay for two seats, doesn't he? Anyway, screw New York for now, he's off to Florida. Ben gets to turn back into human form in this issue, but of course, it doesn't last, and he's even prepared to be re-Thinged to stop the Molecule Man. Now granted, Ben's a bit thick throughout this story (he should be sueing Time(s)/Warner, not a mindless swamp monster), and he's too irrascible to even enjoy his humanity, but he holds his own in the brawn department. +7 points

Batman's not the hipster doofus he was last round, thankfully (or perhaps sadly), but he still misses Robin. He's not a very good driver - he manages to crash both the Batmobile and the Whirly-Bat......but he's an excellent detective, discovering the villains' hideout thanks to a piece of architecture seen on their threat video, and using a geiger counter to trace their radioactive shoes (see below). That's a Batman I can get into! Even better is the moment where he crashes said hideout by coming in... through the chimney!Yes, Victoria, there IS a punch in the face comin' to ya. +9 bat-points

The Guests
The Giant-Sized Man-Thing is one of Steve Gerber's main projects (and don't tell me he didn't call it that on purpose) so we shouldn't be surprised that his first issue of Two-in-One co-stars the marsh monster. As usual, the creature shambles along, puts Molecule Man in an armlock, and shambles back to the swamp. It gets temporarily turned back into its former human forn, Alec Holland.. I mean, Ted Sallis, sorry - easy mistake to make - but Ted isn't really more interesting than his mindless self. Just a big, boring talking machine who's high on hope and low on everything else. More interesting is that it gets cover copy on Time Magazine... Thing of the Year? If I were Ben, I'd be angry too. +4 points

On the other side, Batman calls in the Flash to deal with some superfast criminals, and he answers the call despite having been told that his powers were killing him. Don't worry, he's probably the character whose death has been heralded the most often and it won't happen for real until Crisis on Infinite Earths. Artist Carmine Infantino treats him well as always, with lots of racing on top of cars, on tight wires and even running backwards, but he eventually burns out from his "condition". Still, watch yourself when you're up against the Flash:You're likely as not to find yourself buried head first in gravel with your shoes melting over your socks. +6 bat-points

The Villains
The Molecule Man was a Fantastic Four villain who could transmute matter into any shape he wished. He was so powerful that the Watcher Uatu broke the Prime Directive and sent him to another dimension out of synch with our own where he would be dead from old age within 5 of our years. But Molecule Man created a son for himself, and that son turns himself into Molecule Man, jumps dimensions and is off to go kill the FF in this tale. He winds up in the Man-Thing's swamp because it's a dimensional nexus. However, there are other problems with his plan. He must keep hold of a magic wand or he grows old real fast.

Yow! That's one bad case of chapped lips! This Molecule Man is actually pretty badass, in a cruel kind of way. He turns the Things into humans so they can watch helplessly as he kills the other FF, and when he grows impatient with not being in NYC, he turns a random bystander into Reed Richards and shows Ben just what he wants to do to Mr. Fantastic:
As someone who's been snapped by many a broken rubber band, I think I can safely say I know that man's pain. And Molecule Man knows the value of a good whack on malfunctioning equipment:
And for all this, he drops the wand and turns to dust. (He will return.) +8 points

Meanwhile, Batman and Flash have to contend with the Speed Boys, or as the media calls them, the Sneaker Thieves. I think I like that better. They're a group of gentlement thieves who wear - get this - irradiated sneakers with meteorite fibers that allow them to run at superspeed.What's funny about the above scene is that they wear stockings over their heads while having a glass of wine together, but they don't wear any masks at all while perpetrating their robberies.Their HQ is a brownstone called the Accelerated Gentlemen's Club, and in addition to trendy footwear (the cops have to stay on the lookout for anyone wearing sneakers... good luck!), they also use vacuum cleaners that suck up money, and a kite with a microphone attached to spy on the GCPD. It helps that at least two of their members are midgets that can pass themselves off as children. Batman whaps one in the face with a batarang...
...BEFORE he notices he's a vertically-challenged adult! It's time Robin got back. +6 bat-points

Odds vs. Ends
From Marvel Two-in-One:
Though it picks off where Marvel Feature #12 left off, it's a whole new title with a full-time writer. That they named it the less than evocative "Marvel Two-in-One" is less interesting than the tradition of picturing the two stars in large colored circles next to the logo. +0 points
Poor Man-Thing gets no respect. He's miscolored on the cover. Or maybe it's autumn? -1 point
Gerber actually ends the story on a Pekinpah moment, with a child running into the battlefield (where there's an extra long dead body) and starts playing with the Molecule Man's wand.

O, loss of innocence! O, strange hint that Molecule Man will be back! +1 point

From Brave and the Bold:
At one point, the Sneaker Thieves steal the key to the city from the mayor's very hands. They seem to think it's priceless. That is the stupidest theft I have ever seen. -2 bat-points
I'm afraid I also have to take points off for the Deus ex machina. It so happens that the Flash is cured from his malady by having lain unconscious next to those radioactive shoes. Well, it was lucky he went to Gotham City against his doctor's orders then, isn't it? -3 bat-points
Much like the kid who picks up the wand, this story ends with a bum picking up the sneakers. This time, the reader is asked if he or she wants to see more. 8ball says "Try again later". +0 bat-points

Farewells and Scoring
The Man-Thing just turns its back on Ben and leaves without so much as a word, but then, it can't talk.

At least Ben learned a valuable lesson about people who have it worse than he does. The breaking point is when his fist goes through the swamp creature's body. Mountain trumps Marshland. +1 point

Batman and Flash do't really exchange goodbyes, but they do have a few parting words for the Speed Boys.

Commissioner Gordon is all about tired old irony, but our heroes have the better joke. +1 bat-point

Final tally: It's the turtle over the hare as Man-Thing passes the Flash, 20 to 17! Ouch, that was close! And that makes it 2-1 for the everlovin' Thing. More to come!


Marc Burkhardt said…
The "yes Victoria" comment was the funniest thing I read this morning.