Since 1961 Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing has been mixing up punches and wise cracks in equal measure. With the 60th anniversary of the Fantastic Four fast approaching and a new film on the horizon, now’s the perfect time to look back on the many pearls of wisdom from Aunt Petunia’s favourite nephew!
1. “Don’t worry about ol’ Benjamin Blue -Eyes! I’ll dig in with my dainty paws!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 38
To the wider world “Old Blue-Eyes” can only mean Frank Sinatra. For generations of comic book fans it’s the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing! Ben first referred to himself as “Blue-Eyes” in Fantastic Four issue 38 back in 1965!
2. “I live in a world too small for me!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 1
From his very first appearance there was no doubting that Ben was a larger than life character. Here in his first appearance he makes it clear that, unlike many super-heroes of the time, The Thing could be a tragic figure.
3. “I ain’t Ben anymore…I’m what Susan called me…The Thing!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 1
In the same comic the Reed Richards decides somewhat bigheadedly to go by the name of Mr Fantastic, Ben Grimm, horrified by his new monstrous appearance decides to call himself something far more down-beat. It’s not easy being orange!
4. “I should have known! It couldn’t be…It was just a joke!! Yeah a real funny joke”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 2
One common occurrence in stories featuring The Thing his when he reverts back to his human form. This never lasts for long however and he’s soon stuck in his rocky body again. The first time this happened was very early in his career in Fantastic Four issue 2.
5. “Why can’t I stay? The future holds nothing for me! In the twentieth century I’m nothing but a monster…a freak!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 5
In a bizarre twist of fate following a run in with Dr Doom’s time machine, The Thing finds himself living the life of the pirate Blackbeard! Life on the high seas seems a lot more fun than living the life of an outcast back in the present.
6. “Don’t cry Alicia! Everything’ll be okay now, kid! I swear it!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 8
From the first time Ben meets the love of his life Alicia Masters, daughter of the dreaded Puppet Master, it’s obvious that they are made for each other. There’s certainly a soft centre to his rocky exterior.
7. “Can you imagine those lunkheads thinking I was The Hulk? Next they’ll be mistaking me for Frankenstein!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 12
The Hulk and The Thing have traded blows on the regular basis for almost 60 years. Issue 12 of the Fantastic Four was the first time this happened, dramatically illustrated by Jolly Jack Kirby!
8.“This is your ever-lovin’ big buddy, kid!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 38
Having been described in the past as the “ever-loving” Thing, Ben Grimm makes this catchphrase his own in issue 38 of The Fantastic Four!
9. “So Lee and Kirby were right! You did return!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 10
Modern readers might think that the crossing-the-fourth-wall antics of characters like Harley Quinn and Deadpool is something new yet less that a year on from the publication of issue 1 of The Fantastic Four, The Thing is casually dropping the names of the book’s creators into a conversation with Dr Doom!
10. “For cryin’ out loud! What’s going on here? How’d the apes get into those floating globes? And who…who is that?”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 13
One thing that was an instant hit with fans when The Fantastic Four first appeared was the range of bizarre supporting characters that they shared their adventures with. Not only did issue 13 of their book introduce The Red Ghost and his Super Apes but the team also met The Watcher, on the moon no less! As the Watchers have already been introduced into the MCU Guardians of the Galaxy 2 maybe we’ll see them again the FF’s own movie!
11.“When I get through with that crummy Yancy Street Gang, it’ll take a blotter to mop ‘em up!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 15
The Thing might have travelled the cosmos but he never forgot his Brooklyn roots. With friends like the Yancy Street gang though, he might have wished that he could. From launching rotten vegetables at him to trying to make him believe that Reed and Sue Richards had returned from the dead in Dan Slott’s Fantastic Four relaunch, The Yancy Street Gang have always been a royal pain in Ben Grimm’s butt!
12. “This could be the beginnin’ of a beautiful friendship!”
– Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson, Marvel Two-in-One 96
One of the most unusual Marvel friendships is that between The Thing and former nemesis The Sandman. Tom DeFalco borrows a classic line from Casablanca in a scene that reveals Ben and Sandy have a shared love of beer, ball games and cigars.
13. “I’ve been readin’ the papers for the past hour…It’s enough to make anyone blow his top!”
– Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 21
It’s no secret that Stan Lee explored social issues in the comics that he wrote. It was arguably this more realistic, grounded approach to fantasy storytelling that led to Marvel’s success, making it stand out from their Distinguished Competition. In issue 21 of The Fantastic Four the villain The Hatemonger incites a racist mob who want to “Kick the foreigners out!”. The Things responds by replying “If a riot is what they want, here’s where they are going to get it!”
14. “I knew it! That kook has rocks in his head!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four Annual 1
Spider-Man has had a long association with The Fantastic Four, appearing with them in his first issue, their first annual, even joining the team at one stage. Marvel launched their “What If?” title, soon to be a series on Disney+ , with the story “What if Spider-Man had joined the Fantastic Four?” (short answer-they become The Fantastic Five). Ben’s comment on Spidey here from their first encounter though shows that their relationship is sometimes…rocky!
15. “Can’t hide nothin’ from you, can I babe? Ya may be blind but ‘cha can see right through me.”
– John Byrne and Ron Wilson, The Thing
Although they’ve had their ups and downs, Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters have been together for the best part of sixty years. The character of Alicia has been portrayed as being blind from her first appearance but this has not been presented as a disability, instead it’s just a part of her character. Alicia is a successful sculptress whose celebrity status has been known to outshine that of her heroic partner, much to his chagrin.
16. “Sheesh! I been readin’ too many of them horror stories! I’m all psyched up!”
– Bill Mantlo and Bob Hall, Marvel Two-in-One 99 Ghost stories for a rainy night.
Ben might be one of the hardest hitters in the Marvel Universe but one thing he’s terrified of is the supernatural. When Rom the Spaceknight unexpectedly comes to visit the Baxter Building in Marvel Two-in-One issue 99 Ben is completely on edge after a night spent reading “Ghost Stories For a Rainy Night!”
17.“I’m Ben Grimm, Richards! Mebbe you heard of me?”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 11
In issue 11 of The Fantastic Four we find out a bit more about Ben Grimm’s past. The Thing and Reed Richards have been friends since they shared a room at college, the same college co-incidentally that a certain Victor Von Doom attended!
18.“Well, here I am…Rocky Grimm, Space Ranger. Question is, now what do I do?!”
– John Byrne and Ron Wilson The Thing 11
After the events of the Secret War, Ben Grimm reverted to his human form. Instead of returning to Earth with the rest of the team, Ben gave his place to the She-Hulk, stayed on Battleworld, grew a beard and wore his hair in a ponytail becoming “Rocky Grim, Space Ranger!”
19.“Good-bye, cruel world!”
– Mike Carlin, Paul Neary, The Thing 36.
At the end of his first solo series, The Thing started to mutate even more, becoming so changed that he felt his only option was to join the Mole Man and his creatures on Monster Island! This run of stories is notable as it reintroduced Ms. Marvel into the Marvel Universe years after Carol Danvers had given up that name and also gave us our first glimpse of The Power Broker, now revealed to be the villain at the heart of the Disney+ series Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
20.“I’ll never be human again! I’ll live…and die…just the way I am!”
– Stan Lee Jack Kirby Fantastic Four 50
Perhaps the most iconic Thing story is the classic “This Man…This Monster!” from Fantastic Four 50. This opening speech from Ben highlights the tragic side of his personality that is an integral part of his character.
21.“Huh? Alicia’s voice…”
– Stan Lee and John Buscema, Fantastic Four 112
Fantastic Four 112 has between its covers arguably the finest Hulk/Thing clash in the form of “Battle of the Behemoths”. The irony of course is that Ben is only defeated when he turns away from the Hulk as he hears Alicia running toward him…
22.“For years I’ve wanted to be just plain Ben Grimm… not The Thing. But now that I am, I’ve been… replaced by Power Man!”
– Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler, Fantastic Four 168
Ben Grimm is perhaps the heart of The Fantastic Four. Despite that there have been times where he’s lost his powers and been replaced. Spider-Man, Wolverine, The She-Hulk and others have all been members of the team and Fantastic Four 168 is where Ben was replaced by Luke Cage!
– Dan Slott and Sarah Pichelli, Fantastic Four 1, 2018
It seemed “unbelievable” that Marvel wasn’t publishing a Fantastic Four comic. FF had been their flagship title launching the Marvel Age yet for three years the book remained in limbo. Rumours suggested that this was because of rights issues, issues that no longer exist now that both Fox and Marvel are owned by Disney! This final word spoken by Ben Grimm in the first issue of the relaunched series seemed to echo a lot of readers views about the situation. At least the team were back, this time with Dan Slott and Sarah Pichelli at the helm.
24. “I can’t fight you! I am you!”
– John Byrne, Marvel Two-in-One 50
From Star Trek to Superman, mirror universes and evil twins are ten a penny. Ben Grimm’s battle against himself in the classic issue 50 of Marvel Two-in-One was a bit different though. Ben travelled back in time (thanks Dr Doom!) to stop a younger version of himself remaining orange and rocky at a time when the transformation was new and could be reversed. The good news was, it worked. The bad news was when Ben returned to his present he hadn’t changed. Curse those alternate worlds!
25. “What a revoltin’ development!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 35
“It’s clobberin’ time!” is just one of may catch-phrases uttered by The Thing. “What a revoltin’ development!” gets its first outing in issue 35 of The Fantastic Four.
26.“My dear old Aunt Petunia always told me I’d get into trouble if I wasn’t careful of the company I hung around with! I shoulda listened to her!”
– Stan and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 22
Ben’s family and heritage has always been important to him. Aunt Petunia has been mentioned frequently from FF issue 22 onwards. She even appeared in the strip many years later thanks to John Byrne in Fantastic Four 239!
27. “S’matter, Wondy? Stakes too high for ya?”
– Peter B. Gillis and Frank Miller, Marvel Two-in-One 51.
The Thing is a notoriously effective poker player. Whether he’s taking on Carol Danvers, Nick Fury or Jarvis the butler, Ben Grimm is one card shark who doesn’t like to lose…
28. “M’lady, tis the clobberin’ hour.”
– Jonathan Hickman and Sean Chen, Fantastic Four: Dark Reign 2.
The time-travelling misadventures of Dark Reign see The Thing in Elizabethan England. When the queen calls for an act of “admonishment” against her enemies from her enforcer Chamberlain Grimm, his reply is pitch perfect.
29. “Whah! I got stubble! I got whiskers!”
– Barry Windsor Smith, Marvel Fanfare 15
The Thing and The Human Torch: like many brothers just because they love each other doesn’t mean they don’t want to kill each other. Johnny Storm’s April Fool joke, gluing drinking straws on Ben’s face so that he wakes up thinking he’s growing a beard is one of many classic gags beautifully drawn by Barry Windsor Smith in this classic issue of Marvel Fanfare.
30. “Yer askin’ the wrong guy. I got kicked out of Hebrew school which don’t make you feel like one ‘a the chosen people let me tell ya…”
– Christos Gage and Reilly Brown, Amazing Spider-Man 661
Ben Grimm is Jewish and his faith has been an important component of many stories featuring the character. As this quotation suggests though, just because he went to Hebrew school, it doesn’t mean he was always a good boy…
31.“It’s clobberin’ time!”
– Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four 22
No run down of quotes from Thing is complete without “It’s clobberin’ time!”. A regular catchphrase since issue 22 of The Fantastic Four, it also appears in most of the comics mentioned here! Nothing sums up Ben Grimm’s courage, determination and good humour better than this battle cry!
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