Uncredited Writer: Stan Lee
Uncredited Penciler: Jack Kirby
Uncredited Inker: George Klein
Uncredited Colours: Stan Goldberg
Uncredited Letterer: John Duffy
One of the greatest tragedies of the Fantastic Four is the lost humanity of Ben Grimm, trapped forever in a monstrous form, unable to connect with humanity on the level that he used to. Forced to wear a large mac and fedora to hide his looks (or at least until he came to accept who he was and decided to wear a fetching pair of trunks), The Thing would quickly move beyond his anger issues and become the true heart of the team.
Not that it would stop Stan and Jack from teasing him regularly with the promise of returning to his human form. In this first instance, a repeated exposure to the cosmic rays affects only Ben, causing him to lose his powers and disfigurement. This only lasts for a couple of pages before he loses his human exterior again, but this unexpected transformation launches one of the longest-running subplots in the book, that of Reed working to somehow regain the humanity of his best friend.
I really enjoy Kirby's layouts of the transitions, and the way they mirror each other. In both triptychs, the eyes are the key element and focus of the panels. In the first, they change from the unnaturally round eyes of The Thing to the more natural shape of Ben Grimm's. In the second, they eyes vanish as Ben becomes The Thing again, highlighting the loss of his physical humanity.
Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #2 in our second episode: Secret Invasion Tie-In