Ben: S’funny. I been the Thing now for a lotta years, and most o’ the time I hated it. All I wanted wuz ta be plain ol’ Ben Grimm again. But… today I did sum’pin’ no one else could’a done by pullin’ that bomb up. I saved a hunnert million people. I maybe saved the whole blamed world. Me, the Thing. If I’d beenBen Grimm, Reed, Suzie, Franklin, Alicia— they all woulda died. Kinda makes the pain worth it. Sheesh! I’m a philosopher a’ready.
Natasha: I got SHIELD— they’re on their way. And Ms. Masters is fine. I also found some vintage champagne— I think we’ve earned a glass… Za zdorovia, Mr. Grimm.
Ben: Mazel tov yerself, Widder-woman.
Chris Claremont was probably the best at managing huge casts of characters and giving them significant, meaningful interaction. (As a consequence he’s probably also the king of dropped plotlines.) Superhero comic books are a strange sort of fiction based more on character than plot. Writers, storylines, artists, costumes, these things come and go, but trademarks are forever, and the character and character brand is still at the core of what makes them tick.
That’s why what Ben says here is important: I did something no one else could have done. Natasha doesn’t echo him, but we know it goes the same for her too. In this whole smorgasboard of Avengers X-men event hopping, it’s, uh, really easy for the same twenty characters to appear in dozens and dozens of comics. But they don’t always appear, if you know what I mean. They’re not always doing something only they could do, saying something only they would say. The best team books, the best team-up books, always provide the space needed to make every character interesting— not likeable, not victorious, but interesting— and to be interesting, you have to be unique.
Trust me, if I could buy one Natasha appearances a month where she got the kind of love she did in Marvel Two-in One #10 c. 1975 I would take that every time over six appearances a month where she drives the Avengers plane and kicks one (1) goon in a big group fight scene. And if this frees up the comic time to give other cool characters (I know Marvel has some characters that don’t appear in any movies…) meaningful appearances, bonus points.
Marvel Two in One #10, by Chris Claremont and Bob Brown.