NEW: The Thing - Night Falls On Yancy Street

December 9, 2018
Other Titles

Startling Stories: The Thing - Night falls on Yancy Street

Year: 2003
Writer: Evan Dorkin
Penciller: Dean Haspiel
Rating: ****

Availability: Amazon

"Startlng Stories" was a brief brand that saw Marvel release more noirish, mature-audience takes on established characters during 2001-2003. An excellent take on the Fantastic Four - Unstable Molecules - won an Eisner Award, and will be a series that will be covered on this site in due course.

The concept behind the range was very much a niche one, and this is reflected in the low distribution figures for the titles (Night Falls on Yancy Street was shipped for an average of just 16,384 copies). However, this definitely doesn't reflect on the quality, and the Hammet-style narration of this tale fits the character of Ben Grimm perfectly. While the gumshoe dialogue can occasionally stray a little close to corny, this is comics, where melodramatic flair is in the DNA of the form, and Ben has one of the most established inner monologues in comics anyway.

As this is a mature readers work with a 12+ rating, then there's some uncustomary swearing in there, with more than half a dozen "bastards" and words like "whore". Yet while the story follows familiar paths of Ben feeling lost and alone, hating his form and being on Yancy Street, it manages to make it all seem fresh. The essential story is Ben considering cheating on Alicia after a stranger makes him feel good about himself. That it turns into a take on the femme fatale trope isn't something that holds up especially well in 2018, but it's a rewarding story.

It would be nice if one of the alternate takes on Ben went even further left-field and abandoned super-powered foes, but when villains finally take their place in this tale, it's bleaker than ever before, including cold-blooded murder. The heavily stylised art won't be to everyone's taste, but ultimately this is an engaging story, concluding with Ben embracing a nihilistic world view and wishing all of reality would end.

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