Marvel Two-In-One is a comic that I’ve had to pass on given my pull list. But given that the Fantastic Four are back I couldn’t resist not picking up a comic that would be starring Reed Richards and Ben Grimm. These two are my favorite best friend pairings in comics. I’ve always enjoyed their dynamic. And with there being a lot of drama behind the recent return of Reed and Sue there are things Reed and Ben need to hash out. Hopefully that is exactly what Chip Zdarksy explores in this issue of Marvel Two-In-One. Let’s find that out with Marvel Two-In-One #11.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Ramon K. Perez
Colorist: Federico Blee
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At Awesome Sonic Repair shop Mad Thinker is being yelled at by his boss about not fixing a radio fast enough. As soon as Thinker finishes repairing the radio Reed Richards and Ben Grimm enter the shop. Reed compliments Mad Thinker’s beard while also shooting him down for his impression of him.
A little later at a diner Reed and the Thing are eating after capturing the Mad Thinker. Reed compliments the waitress, Margot Wilkins, on the diner’s burgers being the best as Ben said.
As they continue talking Reed mentions that keeping the Mad Thinker here would’ve meant he just grow to torment someone else. Ben sarcastically says he wishes Reed was there to guide them. Reed asks Ben what is wrong.
Ben talks about how when Reed and Sue were gone he and Johnny were at rock bottom. On top of that the world he and Johnny were in did not know who they were so even if they died no one would know who they were.
Ben asks Reed why they left him and Johnny behind. Reed tells Ben there is something he wants to show Ben.
On planet Hyzor in Universe F-266 Reed talks to Ben about how he and Sue took the kids to explore and research the life on the planet. Reed says that when the Fantastic Four were founded they were supposed to be explores but were pulled into being superheroes at the center of every conflict. Reed goes on to say that he and Sue just wanted to explore the Multiverse from a scientific perspective which he knew would bore Ben and Johnny.
Ben responds by saying that is Reed’s problem as he just assumed rather than ask. Reed says he just though if it was him, Sue and the kids there would be no life-threatening predicaments but was wrong.
Suddenly a giant plant attacks them. They team up to quickly take down the plant. As they do Reed says he realized there were dangers everywhere. Ben responds by punching Reed and claiming Reed thought it was better for him and Johnny to think they were all dead.
Reed apologizes and says he thought he could fix something. Ben demands to know what it was he was looking to fix. Reed says he’ll show Ben what he means.
While traveling through space the Mad Thinker tells Reed he’ll wish he stayed dead. Ben puts the metal band back on Mad Thinker to get some quiet.
They then arrive outside Castle Doom. Ben states that no one has seen Doctor Doom since he locked himself in the castle a while back (back in Invincible Iron Man #600) but then wonders if this is their Earth. Reed introduces Ben to this universe’s Victor Von Doom. Ben is left in shock when he sees Reed and Victor bonding over their past with each other as they head inside the castle.
Reed reveals that they are in Universe P-1837 and the Fantastic Four never formed in this universe. He goes on to state that the Ben, Johnny and Sue of this world have successful careers while this world’s Reed is dead.
Reed then reveals that back when he invented the Multisect he found this universe and though this Doctor Doom was the same as his own. They did end up fighting but was shocked when Doom let him go alive at the end of their fight. It was then Reed figured he and Doom could be positive friends so he kept coming back to Universe P-1837 to make scientific discoveries with Doom.
Ben is shocked as it sounds like without Reed in this universe Doom turned out to be a good guy. Reed states that their Doom could’ve be the same as his search in science and magic is not rooted in power but curiosity, which this universe’s Doom sees.
Universe P-1837 appears and shows Reed the Hellstar he discovered. Reed wonders if this has to do with Mephisto and Doom’s mother. Doom says that they are explorers and there is no corner off-limits. Doom’s butler says lunch is ready and Doom excuses himself.
After having dinner Ben finds Reed alone. Ben mentions that there is still something about Universe P-1837 Doom that is “Doom-y” about him. Ben reveals that while Reed and Sue were gone their Doom tried to be good but was not able to stay that way.
Reed admits that he felt that if their Doom thought they were dead he could rise above his jealousy and pursuit for power. Reed apologizes for not letting Ben and Johnny know about this as his decision was a big mistake. Ben tells Reed he needs to start trusting his friends and family because the Fantastic Four can do anything when they are together.
As they are leaving Universe P-1837 pulls Reed aside to ask about Ben not trusting him. Reed says Ben is just being protective. Doom asks if Reed still meets with the Council of Reeds. Reed says he does. Doom then whispers something to Reed.
In the Multicar Ben asks Reed what Doom told him. Reed reveals that Universe P-1837 Doom asks Reed not to give up on him.
Universe P-1837 Doom watches Reed and Ben leave the universe using the Multicar to enter a dimension portal. End of issue.
The Good: Marvel Two-In-One #11 was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Chip Zdarksy does not hold back on showing the reality behind Reed Richards decision for him, Sue and the kids disappearances. There was no sugar coating why it happened which made the issue a stand out for the Fantastic Four franchise.
Zdarsky approach to how Reed explained to Ben why he and his family weren’t around for the last few years. There was no hiding how the decision to leave the Marvel Universe without explaining it to Ben and Johnny was selfish. Ben and Johnny are just as much part of Reed and Sue’s family as the kids. After all the Fantastic Four are even nicknamed Marvel’s First Family for a reason.
For Reed to actually address the reason he made the selfish decision showed he knew the weight of what he did after Secret Wars. This was all about how Reed and Sue were tired of being superheroes. Afterall the Fantastic Four were supposed to be explorers not superheroes, something Reed address in Marvel Two-In-One #11. What made their superhero careers more taxing was the fact that the Fantastic Four were always placed in the middle of every major event in the Marvel Universe. Because of that and the major roles Reed and Sue served during Secret Wars it is reasonable to believe that they would like a break to pursue their passion in science along with their kids.
At the same time, Zdarsky was able to use Reed and Sue wanting to go this direction to explain why they didn’t include Ben and Johnny, since they actually enjoyed being superheroes. Both Ben and Johnny have shown to fully embrace the life of being superheroes.
That reasoning made Ben talking about how selfish his decision to not even give him and Johnny the choice to go with Reed and Sue a stronger scene. Because Reed simply telling Ben and Johnny what his plans were would’ve made them understand. It would’ve allowed them to at least have some closure and stick to their superhero adventures on their own without worrying if their family was dead. That major unknown made it even harder to actually move on as Reed thought they would without the other half of the Fantastic Four.
Ben saying all this made the way Zdarsky show how much guilt Reed felt over all of this look much heavier. It meant more coming from Ben since they are best friends and have always tried not to keep things from each other. While Zdarsky does not resolve everything about the damage this decision caused this was a strong set-up to further explore Reed and Ben’s dynamic in Marvel Two-In-One and Fantastic Four series.
Doctor Doom’s role in Marvel Two-In-One #11 was a great surprise. Zdarsky created a fascinating new version of Doctor Doom. From the moment Universe P-1837 Doctor Doom appeared on screen there was a special aura around him. Zdarsky did not waste time in showing the similarities and differences between the two Doctor Doom. The character development for Universe P-1837 Doctor Doom created even more intrigue in seeing this character again.
What particularly stood out with Universe P-1837 Doctor Doom was his friendship with Reed Richards. Just like how Ben reacted, this was a big surprise to see. Just seeing Reed and Doom hug felt wrong. Reed explaining how without this universe having a Reed Richards made Doom put all his effort into his love for exploring science and magic an interesting twist. It showed that Doom does have the potential to be a good guy. Though it is interesting that Reed identifies his presence as one of the factors that made his Doom so power hungry.
This presentation of Universe P-1837 Doctor Doom made Ben’s own point that there is no changing the character more poignant. Ben bringing up how Doom in the normal Marvel Universe Doom actually tried to be a superhero as Iron Man while Reed and Sue were gone was a good use of continuity. It shows that while Doom may change for a short time he will always go back to being the power hungry villain he has always been because that is his nature.
The introduction Hellstar sphere presents an interesting backdoor to reintroduce Mephisto into a future Fantastic Four story. While Mephisto character hasn’t been used well in recent history getting involved in a story with an alternate Doctor Doom maybe what the character needs. It would at least given Mephisto a different way to be shown as we’ve never seen him be part of the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe.
Ramon Perez artwork got the job done. His art style did not necessarily fit the tone of the cosmic style Fantastic Four story in Marvel Two-In-One #11. Perez’s artwork would be more at home with a Moon Knight or other street-level series. That said he did well enough to get over the emotion in Ben and Reed’s dialogue throughout the issue.
The Bad: As much as I loved Marvel Two-In-One #11 the one minor problem it had was with the involvement of Mad Thinker. The character was completely unnecessary addition to the story. There was no purpose to the character outside of making one or two snarky comments. So even if Zdarksy is building a bigger story involving the Mad Thinker it fell flat with how the character was presented in this issue.
Overall: Marvel Two-In-One #11 did a fantastic job exploring the current state of Mr. Fantastic and the Thing’s friendship. Chip Zdarsky was able to use previously established continuity from events like Secret Wars to give greater weight to Reed and Sue Richards disappearance. What that meant for Reed and Ben’s relationship propelled this issue to be one that Fantastic Four fans don’t want to miss out on.