Member of the Fantastic Four
Some years later, Reed Richards, now a successful scientist, once again makes contact with Grimm. Richards has built his spaceship, and reminds Grimm of his promise to fly the ship. After the government denies him permission to fly the spaceship himself, Richards plots a clandestine flight piloted by Grimm and accompanied by his future wife Susan Storm, who had helped provide funding for the rocket, and her brother Johnny Storm, who helped the group gain access to the launch system. Although reluctant to fly the rocket, Ben is persuaded to do so by Sue, for whom he has a soft spot. During this unauthorized ride into the upper atmosphere of Earth and the Van Allen Belts, they are pelted by a cosmic ray storm and exposed to radiation against which the ship’s shields are no protection. Upon crashing down to Earth, each of the four learn that they have developed fantastic superhuman abilities. Grimm’s skin is transformed into a thick, lumpy orange hide, which gradually evolves into his now-familiar craggy covering of large rocky plates. Richards proposes the quartet band together to use their new abilities for the betterment of humanity, and Grimm, in a moment of self-pity, adopts the super-heroic sobriquet, The Thing. The team clashes with the Mole Man in their first appearance.14
Trapped in his monstrous form, Grimm is an unhappy yet reliable member of the team. He trusts in his friend Reed Richards to one day develop a cure for his condition. However, when he encounters blind sculptress Alicia Masters,15 Grimm develops an unconscious resistance to being transformed back to his human form. Subconsciously fearing that Masters prefers him to remain in the monstrous form of the Thing, Grimm’s body rejects various attempts by Richards to restore his human form, lest he lose Masters’ love. Grimm has remained a stalwart member of the Fantastic Four for years. The Thing first fought the Hulk early in his career,16 with many such further clashes over the years. Not long after that, he is first reverted to his human form, but is then restored to his Thing form to battle Doctor Doom.17
Fantastic Four #310 (January 1988). The Thing mutates further.
After the events of the first Secret Wars, Grimm leaves the team when he opts to remain on an alien planet where he can control his transformation to and from his rocky super-powered form.18 Upon returning to Earth, he learns that Alicia had become romantically involved with his teammate Johnny Storm during his absence 19 (it is eventually revealed that this Alicia was actually the Skrull impostor Lyja[volume & issue needed]). An angry Grimm wallows in self-pity for a time, later on joining the West Coast Avengers, and hanging out at the West Coast mansion.[volume & issue needed] Eventually, he returns to his surrogate family as leader of the Fantastic Four when Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman leave the team to raise their son Franklin.20 Ben invites Crystal and Ms. Marvel II (Sharon Ventura) to fill their slots.[volume & issue needed] Soon after Sharon and Ben are irradiated with cosmic rays, Sharon becomes a lumpy Thing much like Ben was in his first few appearances while Ben mutates into a new rocky form.21
After being further mutated into the more monstrous rocky form, Ben was briefly changed back to his human form, and returned leadership of the Fantastic Four to Reed Richards.22 Grimm once more returned to his traditional orange rocky form, out of love for Ms. Marvel.23 He remains a steadfast member of the Fantastic Four.