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The Braggadocio of Braggadoom (An Ever-Lovin’ October Continues) – Marvel Two-In-One #13

October 21, 2011

One would think that Man Mountain Marko and his brass knuckles would have something to say about Braggadoom’s cover boast.

Our half-assed Two-In-One retrospective continues this time around with Ben Grimm battling alongside another blue-collar hero (for hire), Luke Cage. It’s a working-class-hero-palooza. And Power Man isn’t some low-class guy who’s developed powers and now lives in a high-tech highrise. No, he’s a guy who actually has to earn money, who has to hustle and take out ads in newspapers and rent an office next to the Mike Hammers of the world. You go into this issue half-expecting Cage to start sounding like Robert Shaw mocking Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws, calling Ben “college boy” and all that jazz with his unique urban tinge.

There’s no time for that, though. There’s a monster to fight.

The format of this ish (Script: Roger Slifer/Len Wein, Pencils: Ron Wilson, Inks: Vince Colletta) is a bit different from what we’ve seen. Instead of opening with Mr. Grimm wading through some of his daily befuddled escapades, we start with a wormy looking fella (Arnold Krank) coming to Power Man to hire his services. This lab worker accidentally created a new form of life, but, as with all such happy discoveries, there are some awful consequences:

The green slime sucks up the head of the lab as well as that poor reporter, and morphs into the scaly beast seen on the cover. And yes, this monster, like so many others, wears undies. Just like Fin Fang Foom. Fruit of the Foom.

Cage asks the question that every reader would ask: Why the hell are you coming to me with this, a guy good at beating up wimpy vampires and rescuing hapless Moon Knights, and not going to the heavy-hitters and teams? Answer? Krank’s seen them!:

D’oh!

Don’t worry, the Thing has matters well in hand. Well, not exactly, though he is doing his best Fay Wray impersonation:

Power Man enters the fray, and he and the already engaged Thing get along about as well as you’d expect, which is not at all. Strong personalities. They’re bested at every turn by Braggadoom (what the monster names himself after he hears the sound made when Ben crashes into a wall — too bad Walt Simonson wasn’t on this book or we might have had a Krakathoom in the Marvel U.) and our improvised duo even does the I’ll-keep-you-from-danger-by-punching-your-lights-out vaudeville routine:

The lopsided battle with the growing Braggadoom spills over into one of New York’s rivers, and it’s only then that the good scientist pipes in with his Egon Spengler “crossing the streams would be bad” warning:

Once again, something that should have been BROUGHT TO THEIR ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY. Before the guys whose primary offense is knocking the stuffing out of things got warmed up.

The carnage only ends when Braggadoom tuckers himself out and shrinks down so that he’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. For cute. Cage is pleased, but Ben makes the grim (hey…) observation that the two gents consumed in the monster’s creation are gone forever. So we don’t end on that down note, we’re left with this image of the now infantile Braggadoom in a cage/crib playing with a beach ball:

Let’s hope Krank never suckled the creature. Excelsior!

At first glance this is a rather weak effort with a one-off underwear-sporting monster of the week, but the shift in the storytelling, with the star of the book being the second hero to make his entrance, gives it a unique flavor. It’s also mercifully free of any self-loathing schlock from Mr. Grimm (apart from his depressing observation at the end), which is a big part of his charm but grows a little shiny at the elbows at times. I love the mirth on Ben’s mug as he knocks Cage into next week — it’s good to see him happy in his work. And though he and Cage accomplish absolutely nothing in their battle with Braggadoom, it’s still fun to see them struggling against an oversized foe and impossible odds. Heroes don’t always have the answers.

Braggadoom has never returned. He may still be in that crib.

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