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Alternative versions of the Thing

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Alternate versions of the Thing
File:Ultimate Thing (Earth 1610).png
Ben Grimm's Earth 1610 doppelgänger
Artwork for the cover of Ultimate Fantastic Four vol. 1, 57 (August 2008 Marvel Comics
Art by Billy Tan
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceFantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)
Created byStan Lee
Jack Kirby

The Thing is a Marvel Comics superhero and a member of the Fantastic Four. He has many alternative counterparts throughout the Marvel Multiverse.


In Neil Gaiman's Marvel 1602, Benjamin Grimm is the captain of the ship The Fantastick, before gaining his abilities from the Anomaly. His power is associated with the classical element of earth.[1]

In the sequel 1602: Fantastick Four Benjamin has found work as an actor with William Shakespeare's troupe, where he can hide his monstrous form behind false whiskers as Falstaff. He is soon forced to reveal himself, however, when Otto von Doom's vulture soldiers kidnap Shakespeare.[volume & issue needed]

Age of Apocalypse[edit]

In the Age of Apocalypse, Ben Grimm never became The Thing, but instead was a Human High Council Agent, fighting Apocalypse's forces, alongside Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Donald Blake (Thor), Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel), Gateway, Gwen Stacy, Tony Stark (Iron Man), Susan Storm (Invisible Woman), and Victor Von Doom (Doctor Doom). In his place, Bruce Banner becomes a Grey-Hulk-like monster called the Thing. in What If?: X-Men Age of Apocalypse #1 (2007), Ben is a member of the Defenders, the Age of Apocalypse version of the Avengers/Ultimates.

Age of Ultron[edit]

In the Age of Ultron, the Thing along with Human Torch and Mister Fantastic are shown to seemingly perish by attacks from multiple Ultron drones.[2]


In this universe, Ben and Reed Richards are the only occupants of the experimental spacecraft that exposes them to cosmic rays. Ben is called "Mr. Fantastic" and has stretching and flame powers instead.[3]

The End[edit]

In this six-issue mini-series, the entire Solar System is being colonized by humanity, with humanity undergoing a Golden Age because of the use of technology developed by Reed Richards in an effort to create a utopia. The Thing is married to Alicia Masters, has three super-powered children, and resides on Mars with the Inhumans. He is now capable of shifting between human form and 'Thing' form at will.[4]

Heroes Reborn[edit]

In this alternative universe, Ben and Johnny share a more dangerous adversarial relationship, knowing each other even before the ill-fated spaceflight.[volume & issue needed]

House of M[edit]

In the House of M limited series, Ben is the pilot in Reed Richards' voyage to space, alongside Susan Storm and John Jameson. Like the others, Grimm is mutated, though he is the only survivor of the rocket's explosion. Ben is transformed into a rock-skinned creature with superhuman strength and a diminished intellect. He is taken in by Dr. Doom, who names him the It. The It becomes one of the Fearsome Four, though he is treated like an animal and often the victim of Doom's frustrations.[volume & issue needed]

Marvel Mangaverse[edit]

In the Marvel Mangaverse comics Benjamin (pronounced "Ben-ya-meen") Grimm is a member of the Megascale Metatalent Response Team Fantastic Four.[volume & issue needed]


In the alternative future timeline of the Marvel universe published under the MC2 imprint, Ben is still a member of the Fantastic Four, whose roster has expanded to make them the Fantastic 5. In this future, he is married to Sharon Ventura and has a set of twin children by her (Jacob and Alyce), though they are now divorced. He appears alongside the F5 whenever they appear in the Spider-Girl series and related mini-series.[volume & issue needed]

New Amsterdam[edit]

In Marvel Two-in-One #50 (April 1979), Reed Richards advises Ben that the cure Reed has developed for his condition will not work. Ben time-travels to the past to give himself the cure at an earlier stage, where it might work. It does, but on return to the present, nothing has changed. Reed advises him that he succeeded only in creating an alternative universe. In Marvel Two-in-One #100 (June 1983), Reed examines records of that trip and determines that Ben did not create that reality after all, based on a newspaper that shows the name of the city as "New Amsterdam" instead of "New York". Ben returns to that reality, where Ben Grimm is a bartender and the leader of the remaining humans in a post-apocalyptic city.


In Warren Ellis' 1995 Ruins miniseries, Ben refuses to fly Reed's ship the Astraea, feeling it inadequately engineered. Victor von Doom pilots it instead. This results in the horrific mutation and subsequent deaths of all on board. Grimm avoids becoming the Thing, but is left to live with the guilt of thinking he could have prevented the tragedy. Ben Grimm's decision to refuse Richard's offer seems to be the single moment that caused this reality to go horribly wrong, with ramifications leading to a corrupt government, concentration camps and the horrific fates of the would-be Marvels of this universe.[5]


In this reality where Gwen Stacy became Spider-Woman, Ben Grimm is an NYPD cop who never became the Thing. Noticeably out of all the Fantastic Four members in this reality, Ben is the only one who is an adult, as Johnny and Sue are child television stars and Reed is a kid genius.[6]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Ben is Reed's childhood friend: Ben would protect Reed from bullies and Reed would help Ben with his homework. When Ben is invited to watch Reed's teleportation experiment, he is caught in it with Reed and the others. The resulting event gives Ben a rocky hide and enormous strength.[7]

In one storyline, the four travel through time to prevent Reed's experiment from failing. Instead, he contacts the Skrulls, and the resultant trade of information gives humanity super-powers from the aliens, rather than from the accident. While most of the Fantastic Four gain the same powers they would have in most other worlds, Ben himself opts to refuse. When the Skrulls betray humanity and the super-powered humans are all killed, Ben confronts their leader and travels back in time once more to set things "right," although he sacrifices himself in the process.

Later, Ben transforms again, potentially thanks to Reed, back to a more human form, as if the rocky exterior were a cocoon. In his new form, he typically appears human, but his skin may take on a purple glow accompanying moments of strength. Other abilities include the capacity to move through Susan's force fields and others hinted at but yet unclear.[8]

At the end of the Doomsday trilogy, Ben and Susan were engaged.[9]

Counter Earth[edit]

On Counter Earth, counterparts of the Fantastic Four hijack an experimental spaceship in order to be the first humans in space. Man-Beast negates the effects of the cosmic radiation for all of them except Reed Richards who succumbs to the effects a decade later.[10] Ben Grimm's counterpart is shown to be unaffected by the cosmic radiation and is currently assisting Richards by gathering data held by the High Evolutionary.[11]

What If?[edit]

In What If Doctor Doom Had Become the Thing? #1 (February 2005), Doom befriends Reed Richards during their college days, and Ben is left out. Dropping out of college, Ben joins the Army. Doom and Reed go ahead with their experimental rocket. When the cosmic rays turn Doom into a Thing-like creature, he attacks Reed, sending him into a gamma bomb test site, where Ben is stationed. Ben saves Reed from the bomb's radiation, but is transformed into a Hulk-like creature. Calling himself "Grimm", he fights and defeats Doom. After Reed calms him down, Ben joins him in forming the Fantastic Four.[12]

In What If? #11, the original Marvel bullpen becomes the Fantastic Four (Jack Kirby becomes the Thing, Stan Lee becomes Mr. Fantastic, etc.) when cosmic rays from a booby-trapped package sent by the "S" people (Skrulls) bombard the Bullpen in their office. This Thing has the ability to resume normal form when he sets out to work on drawing Marvel Comics, but this was used only once in the story.

In What If? vol. 2, #11 (March 1990), the origins of the Fantastic Four are retold in four stories, each showing how the heroes' lives would have changed if all four had each gained the same powers as the individual members of the original Fantastic Four.

  • Invisibility: The Fantastic Four gain Invisible Woman-style powers and battle Doctor Doom as SHIELD agents. Ben can project invisible force fields.
  • Stretching: Finding the Mr. Fantastic-like power absurd, Ben never uses it and ends up marrying Sue Storm.
  • Monsters: The foursome all turn into monsters and go to live on Monster Island. Ben looks like his Earth-616 self.
  • Torches: The flame-powered Fantastic Four disband after being unable to save a child from a fire. Ben joins the Avengers, calling himself the Human Torch.

Marvel Zombies/Ultimate Fantastic Four[edit]

In this mini-series, the Thing, along with the other three Fantastic Four, is a cannibalistic zombie because of an alien virus infection that has spread to all heroes.[volume & issue needed]Reed Richards has gone out of his mind after being infected with the virus and deliberately infected Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm. They turn into zombies and infect Reed, too, who willingly allows them to do so in order to feel what being infected is like. Zombie Reed contacts Ultimate Reed and his Ultimate team counterparts and is subsequently foiled. They are even foiled by Magneto, who had saved Ultimate Reed from the zombies. Thing and the others find Ultimate Doctor Doom's body swapped with Ultimate Reed. Ultimate Reed (in Ultimate Doom's body) kills all of the Fantastic Four. Thing is seemingly killed by Reed/Doom when he rips off his arm and beats him with it, but his remains is sent back to his universe.


  1. Marvel 1602 #5 (Feb 2004)
  2. Fantastic Four vol. 4 #5AU
  3. Fantastic Four #118 (Jan. 1972)
  4. Fantastic Four: The End #1-6 (Jan-May 2007)
  5. Ruins #2 (September 1995)
  6. Spider-Gwen (2015) #1
  7. Ultimate Fantastic Four #3
  8. Ultimate Mystery #1
  9. Ultimate Doom #4
  10. Warlock #6 (June 1973)
  11. Warlock #7 (Aug 1973)
  12. What If Doctor Doom Had Become the Thing? #1 (Feb 2005)

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