Art by Andrea Di Vito
A former member of the Yancy Street Gang and fighter pilot, Benjamin Jacob Grimm was a close friend and confidant of young genius, Reed Richards. Reed had completed a project to create a starship. He requested Ben to fly the ship when he made plans for the first test flight. The two were joined by Susan Storm and her brother Johnny. Once the flight made its way to space, cosmic rays battered the ship. The four flight members were biologically altered. The ship crashed back into the earth, and they discovered they had fantastic powers. Ben Grimm given a rocky hide and incredible strength. On this day, he became the bruiser with a big heart, the Thing!
The team’s first adventure was to fight off the invasion of monsters orchestrated by the subterranean Mole Man. The team named itself the Fantastic Four and quickly found an arch-nemesis in Reed’s former friend, Victor Von Doom aka Doctor Doom. They would also find enemies in individuals such as Annihilus, the Wizard, El Diablo, and the Mad Thinker. The Fantastic Four became a family for Ben Grimm, but he wasn’t comfortable with his new body, thinking himself a monster.
This feeling was lessened somewhat when he met blind Alicia Masters, whom, though she was aware of Ben’s rocky physiology, thought him a beautiful human being with a big heart. This relationship was complicated by Alicia’s father, Phillip Masters aka the Puppet Master, a regular foe of the FF.
The Thing became a regular brawling buddy for the Incredible Hulk. After one battle, Banner’s radioactive form forced the Thing to return to normal Ben Grimm. He was temporarily replaced on the Fantastic Four by Luke Cage, the Power Man. He was later changed back to his rocky state as a punishment by Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, and he rejoined the team.
The Thing was among the number of heroes transported to “Battleworld” by the god-like Beyonder. He participated in the Beyonder’s Secret Wars between heroes and villains of Earth. The FF’s longtime foe, Doctor Doom, hijacked the Beyonder’s powers, and the heroes had to unite to stop him.
Upon returning back to Earth, Ben left the Fantastic Four after a fight with Reed Richards and became a wrestler with the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation (I love comic books).
The Thing’s powers had been progressing more and more since his initial creation. After one mutation that left Ben feeling like even more of a grotesque beast, he left for Monster Isle, the domain of the Mole Man, and the two became friends. This friendship was shattered when the Fantastic Four arrived and informed Ben about Mole Man’s scheme to trigger earthquakes with the intent of destroying California.
Ben was left in charge of the Fantastic Four when Reed and Sue left the team to raise their newborn son, Franklin Richards. Sharon Ventura joined the team with the identity of Ms. Marvel, but she would soon give Ben a kindred spirit in perceived monstrosity after she was transformed into the She-Thing.
The Fantastic Four were among the heroes taken to Onslaught’s dimension. Their then-headquarters, Four Freedoms Plaza, was occupied by the new hero team, the Thunderbolts, in their absence. When it was revealed that they were the former Masters of Evil, Four Freedoms was destroyed in a desperate attempt to cover his escape.
When the Superhuman Registration Act was passed, Ben Grimm was a reluctant member of Iron Man’s forces. However, he left when he saw the enrollment of former criminals such as Mad Thinker and Puppet Master to capture unregistered heroes. He decided to abstain from the war and left for France, announcing that he felt the Registration Act was wrong, but he didn’t want to fight his own government. He briefly worked with a Justice League-esque team called Les Heroes de Paris.
When the war ended, Ben returned to the Fantastic Four, this time joined by Black Panther and his then-wife Storm instead of Reed and Sue. Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman were on opposite sides during the war, and the two decided they needed to work out their issues outside of the super hero business.
Reed and Susan Richards later returned to the FF, but it was discovered during the Secret Invasion that Sue had been replaced by a Skrull. The Baxter Building was transported to the Negative Zone, but they were able to return to Earth with the help of the villain, the Tinkerer.
After Norman Osborn’s Siege on Asgard, the Avengers reorganized themselves. Among the new teams was another incarnation of the New Avengers organized by Luke Cage. He invited the Thing to join the team, and Ben accepted. Around the same time, the Fantastic Four reinvented themselves as the Future Foundation, expanding their membership to Spider-Man, Sue and Reed’s children Franklin and Valeria, Alex Powers, a reformed Dragon Man, and a number of extraordinary children.
A force from the Negative Zone, home of Annihilus, broke into the Baxter Building. The Human Torch, Ben Grimm’s best friend, was able to push them back through the portal. The portal was closed, and the Human Torch died fighting off the invasion. This left Ben Grimm in a state of depression.
When the hammers of the Asgardian God of Fear were summoned to Earth by Sin, the Daughter of the Red Skull, one fell to Yancy Street. When Ben attempted to remove it, he was transformed into Angrir, Breaker of Souls. He destroyed Avengers Tower. He was later freed by Franklin Richards, whose powers verge on omnipotence.
Later the Human Torch returned, and the team once again became the Fantastic Four. They left Earth and instated a secondary team behind to watch over while they were gone. The powers of the Fantastic Four were fluctuating, and Mister Fantastic wanted to figure out the cause to save his family. To do this, the team travelled across time and space.
Once they had accomplished this mission, the Fantastic Four returned to Earth. Shortly after, Uatu the Watcher, friend of the Fantastic Four, was murdered by Nick Fury. A villain by the name of Midas used one of the eyes of the Watcher and used it to reveal hidden truths to much of Earth’s heroes. Ben Grimm was shown that he may have been complicit in the lab accident that scarred the face of Victor Von Doom, which forever shattered the friendship between Victor and Reed Richards. He was also implicated in the murder of the Puppet Master. Ben was revealed to be innocent of this crime, and the body turned out to belong to the Puppet Master of Counter Earth, a realm created by Franklin Richards.
They soon faced an invasion from Counter Earth. A foe calling himself Quiet Man was revealed to be the cause. He was an old college peer of Reed Richards who fostered a secret obsession with Sue Storm. Upon defeating him, the team disbanded.
After the universal collapse caused by the Incursions, Victor Von Doom recreated the universe with the aid of the god-like Molecule Man. Doom made the Fantastic Four into his family. Ben Grimm was made into a giant who served as the foundation of the Shield, a wall made to keep out the hordes of the “Zombiverse” and Ultron’s drones. When he was talked into revolt by Thanos, he was blown apart by Galactus, whom was controlled at the time by Franklin Richards.
When the universe was repaired by Reed Richards, he, Susan, Franklin, and Valeria took on the task of recreating all other universes as well. Ben Grimm, still thirsting for adventure, joined up with Star-Lord’s Guardians of the Galaxy. He is still on this team, and their most recent adventure was the liberation of a Badoon prison planet.
Ben Grimm has one of the biggest hearts of any hero. He’s kind, caring, and one of the most loyal friends anyone could have. His rocky exterior contains a kind soul who just wants to protect the ones he loves as well as the innocents. This is balanced by a tough-guy attitude that he uses to intimidate the bad guys as well as mess with his friends. The friendship between Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm is one of the most endearing and entertaining relationships in comic book history. The rivalry between the Thing and the Hulk is one of the coolest, and their fights are legendary. Ben Grimm is a thoroughly lovable character and one of the most fun to read about. He’s Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew, and he’s my 7th Favorite Marvel Hero of all time!