BHOC: MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #39

The next issue of MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE turned up at my 7-11 this next week, with what would be the final chapter of a story that had been running for three issues now. This part is written by Roger Slifer, who had not worked on the preceding issues and it goes off in some strange directions–enough so that I wonder if Marv Wolfman hadn’t been forthcoming about where he had been going (or hadn’t worked anything out yet and was just plotting on the fly) or Slifer decided on his own to deviate from whatever Wolfman had in mind. It’s still a good story and a solid conclusion, it’s just somewhat askew from the two chapters preceding it.

After spending the preceding two issues with only Daredevil as the Thing’s heroic partner in this story, Slifer must have realized that he needed to bring in another headliner. His choice is the Vision–although he also gives almost as much play to his fellow Avenger Yellowjacket. We open where we left off last time, with the Mad Thinker convinced that Daredevil has precognitive powers and attempting to coerce Hornhead into helping him by threatening to asphyxiate the captive Thing. Problem being, Daredevil doesn’t actually have the ability to predict the future–his bluffing using his heightened senses has backfired on him, and now he can’t seem to convince the Mad Thinker that he is incapable of providing him what he wants. I’m not sure why DD doesn’t simply continue his bluff and give the Thinker bad intel–if nothing else, that would buy him and the Thing some time. But whatever.

Daredevil does try to run a simpler scam on the Thinker, though, He tells the criminal that his powers foresee them all perishing of a gas leak from the chamber where the Thing is being gassed. To prove his predictive abilities, Daredevil tells him that he’s about to have a visitor–this is because his super-senses have detected the street kid from last issue sneaking around in the complex. The Thinker dispatches a robot to scoop up the kid and lock him away, and now convinced of Daredevil’s predictive powers, he turns off the gas and outlines the next part of his confusing and needlessly-complex plan. He’s built a bunch of replicas of the android Vision, but without all of his powers. So he wants Daredevil and the Thing to go out and capture the Vision for him, so that he can study the android Avenger and duplicate his powers in his own knock-offs.

In order to get this to happen, the Thinker frees the gas-addled Thing and then mesmerizes him with a zap from his hypno-goggles, making him a servant to the Thinker’s will. He also attaches a bomb to the street kid, one that he will detonate if Daredevil doesn’t go along with this nutty plan. As the two heroes fly off to Avengers Mansion, Daredevil is troubled: the Thinker’s calculations predicted that a person with psychic powers would follow the Thing to the Thinker’s base and be captured. Daredevil knows that he doesn’t possess any such abilities–but now he’s skeptical. Maybe there’s more to his radar-sense than he’s thought all these years? And if so, he’s giving the Thinker exactly what he wants. You see it, don’t you? Congratulations, you are already smarter than either Daredevil or the Mad Thinker. We’ll give the Thing a pass since he’s under the Thinker’s mental domination.

The Thing and Daredevil have no problem getting access to Avengers Mansion–they’re trusted friends of the Avengers, after all. Only Yellowjacket and the Vision are home at the moment–and the Thing knocks Yellowjacket out straight away before he and Daredevil double-team the Vision. There’s a brief fight here, as there tended to be in the Marvel books, though it’s a bit sedate as it’s crammed into seven and eight-panel pages–penciler Ron Wilson was clearly having to work to fit all of Slifer’s plot in. Eventually, using the weapon that the Thinker gave them, Daredevil is able to zap and immobilize the Vision, and he heads off to retrieve the Containment Module that will allow them to transport the Vision back to the Thinker’s pad.

They get back to the Thinker’s base, and the mercurial villain decides that he can’t risk using Daredevil’s predictive abilities any longer–so he tells the Thing to kill DD. Ben gets the sightless adventurer in a bear hug, but then suddenly his victim shrinks out of his grasp. It’s actually Yellowjacket wearing Daredevil’s costume over his own! Daredevil was able to revive him when he went to get the Containment Module, and then DD himself hid inside the module, knowing that the Vision’s glowing, immobilized form would help to conceal him. This ruse is all designed to louse up the Thinker’s predictive calculations by introducing new random elements into the mix and cause him chaos. Remembering that Ben Grimm is the star of the book, Yellowjacket snatches up the Thinker’s hypno-goggles and uses them to deprogram the Thing. And realizing that his logo is on the cover, Daredevil reverses the polarity on the Thinker’s weapon to revive the Vision.

There’s still a room full of Vision-knock-offs to take care of, but that only takes this crew a single page packed with tiny panels. And that’s the ballgame. On, except the Vision is the only one smart enough to realize what the Thinker’s mistake was. The precog he was waiting for was never Daredevil at all, of course–it was the street kid who got picked up several pages ago. The kid proves it by correctly predicting the conclusion of a hotly-contested hockey game that took place while he was in captivity. Seems like scant proof, but on a seven-panel page, we’ll take it.

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