Top o’ the World, Aunt Petunia!
Orphan Benjamin J. Grimm grew up on the sordid sidewalks of New York’s Yancy Street and grew up to be a gruff but kindhearted young man whose only escape lay in a college football scholarship. While attending Empire State he earned the eternal friendship of genius Reed Richards and promised to pilot the starship Richards intended to design and build. Grimm took on military service after college to fulfill his dream of becoming a flyboy and gained experience in the astronaut program that would serve him well in his future.
Reconnecting with Reed Richards, Grimm agreed to take his friend and siblings Sue and Johnny Storm on an illicit test flight of Richards’ new spacecraft, but warned him of his misgivings over its shielding. While in space, the four found themselves bombarded by cosmic rays and Grimm managed to bring the ship in for a crash-landing back on Earth. Upon emerging from the wreckage, the crew was subject to incredible changes from the radiation, and the pilot himself lucklessly transformed into a hulking, boulder-skinned monstrosity quickly dubbed the Thing. From then on, Grimm and his fellow travelers would operate as team—and a family—known as the Fantastic Four.
Like a Rock
The Thing stands as one of the most powerful individuals on the planet, perhaps second only to the Hulk. His unique physique enables him to lift nearly one-hundred tons, withstand extreme temperatures, and survive intense bombardments of energy and explosive detonations. In all, his rock-like skin has only been known to be pierced by extraterrestrial weaponry or sorcerous means, and while uncomfortable-looking is actually supple and allows him a wealth of movement. That said, he finds his thick three fingers and opposable thumb difficult to operate controls and machinery not specifically designed for his use.
Ben Grimm’s outward form has mutated over his years as the Thing, changing from a lumpy hide to what appears to be individual rocks linked together, and at one time he possessed the ability to regain his human form at will. This ability is no longer available to him, but after much time living with his deformity, he’s gained a level of complacency with it.
As a pilot, Grimm ranks alongside the world’s best and his natural leadership qualities, honed as a gangleader on Yancy Street and his later military experience, makes him a person others wish to follow, despite his sometimes cantankerous moods. The Thing is a loyal friend, though, and has earned the respect of most of his fellow champions around the globe.
A Foundation of Friends
Ben Grimm looks upon the Fantastic Four as his true family, and counts Reed Richards as his best friend. The two formed a bond during their college days, and while tested upon many occasions has withstood the challenges presented it through their years adventuring. The Thing once saw Sue Storm Richards as a romantic interest, but she instead became one of the few individuals to be able to see the heart of the man beneath his rocky skin. In addition, while Grimm and Johnny Storm seem to exist to bedevil each other, the two would lay down their lives for each other.
The love of the Thing’s life, Alicia Masters, captured his heart early in the Fantastic Four’s existence. Grimm was attracted to her calm demeanor and her ability to see into people’s souls despite her blindness, and though their relationship has also met with many challenges over time, they always found each other and rekindled their romance. Recently, Grimm proposed to Masters and the two were finally wed as husband and wife.
Most all super heroes on Earth see Ben Grimm as a staunch ally and strong partner, a status he values and never tries to exploit. The Thing’s grown closest to such luminaries as longtime Fantastic Four friend Spider-Man, the mutant Wolverine, patriot Captain America, and street-smart Luke Cage. In addition, Grimm’s unusual attraction to members of the female persuasion both amuses and baffles, mostly due to his strange appearance.
A Revolting Development of Enemies
As a founder of the Fantastic Four, the Thing’s long list of foes exceeds that of most other heroes. Possibly his arch-enemy could be said to be Doctor Doom, whom Grimm met in college as Victor von Doom, Latverian monarch and scientific genius. In nearly every encounter between the two, Grimm has sought personal battle with Doom, while the despot himself most always underestimates his rocky foe’s resilience and stamina.
A similar sort of enmity exists between the Thing and Namor the Sub-Mariner, perhaps grounded in Namor’s interest in Sue Richards and his intense dislike for her husband Reed, Grimm’s best friend. On a more basic level, The Thing’s become the target for every subsequent iteration of the Yancy Street Gang of local toughs due to the legacy of his leaving the group at an early age to go off to school.
Overall, some have noted that the truest, real enemy in Ben Grimm’s rogue’s gallery stands as himself.