Sunday, April 14, 2024

My first "Helmet Thing" original comic art (please congratulate me)

In the early-to-mid-'90s, the Thing wore a helmet. This "battle damaged" Thing redesign made him, I suppose, both more extreme and more X-TREME, which fit for the time (though the helmet was originally designed by Jack Kirby and made a very brief appearance in the early issues of the Fantastic Four series). And while I hated the look at the time, I've come to feel a bit of nostalgic appreciation for it, though, to be clear, I NEVER EVER want the character to adopt the look again.

I've never been able to find any helmet Thing original artwork - at least, nothing I've been able to afford - but that streak came to an end recently when I managed to grab a page from Marvel's Cage series, which ran from 1992-'93 and starred former FF member Luke Cage. Let's take a look at it! 

This is a great page for the following reasons: it's full of action, it prominently features the Thing, all of the dialogue balloons and sound effects are still pasted to the page, and most importantly, THE THING IS WEARING HIS HELMET.

Here's the cover to the issue from which this page comes. The Cage series ended with issue 20, so this is one of the final pages from the series.

In the issue, Luke Cage has been possessed by the villainous Bogeyman, and the Thing and the Human Torch set out to free him from the nefarious influence. The battle takes the three to the piers of New York City.

If I had to guess, I'd say the Bogeyman was meant to be Venom-like in its portrayal. The villain tries to possess the Thing, but OH-HO! It's not to be because of his VERY IMPORTANT HELMET! Nice!

The page is pencilled by Scott Benefiel and inked by Frank Turner. The letters come from John Roshell and Comicraft - the company had just been founded a year earlier. This is a very early example of digital lettering in the comic book industry. In this instance, the letters were printed, cut out, and pasted to the art board. I think it really adds something to the artwork, though I understand why it doesn't happen anymore. 

In the end, our Fantastic Four duo are victorious, mostly because the Thing punched a lot (and very well). I guess Johnny keeps Luke Cage from flying off into the stratosphere by flying up to grab him.

There's just one editorial note on this page, next to the last panel, and it's a note for the colorist to make Johnny's forearms blue, as he's turned off his flame to that part of his body as he grabs his pal Luke.

This is a really great page that makes a unique addition to the collection. It's my first page of original art with the Thing in his helmet! This is a reason to celebrate.