For quite a while, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four have had an on-going prank war which the characters, and their creators over the years, have no intention of ending. With pranks ranging from subtle to overdramatic, Reed and Sue Richards usually ignore their teammates’ actions, only interfering to either break up the fight or remind them to focus on whatever situation they’re dealing with at that time. In Marvel #2, the Marvel Comics anthology series leaves the Thing all alone in the Baxter Building and when he’s told to stay out of Johnny’s underwear drawer, he decides to go reverse commando, a subtle reference to one of the funniest gags from the sitcom Friends.
Ever since they were all transformed in the same accident that gave them their powers, the often immature Johnny Storm has enjoyed playing pranks on the no-nonsense Ben Grimm, which he reciprocates in his own way. This back and forth of taunts, zingers, and physical pranks once culminated in Johnny planning an April Fool’s Day full of clever and relentless pranks to unfortunately learn that he missed his opportunity because he can’t properly read a calendar. This dynamic has been continued throughout the Fantastic Four’s publishing history with creators enjoying that, despite their jokes and pranks, Ben and Johnny have a real respect and love for each other, even if it gets pushed to the breaking point from time to time.
In this short story by creator Eric Powell, while Doctor Doom concocts a plan to manipulate the Silver Surfer, Ben Grimm can’t wait to get the other members of the Fantastic Four out so he can enjoy the Baxter Building all to himself. As Reed, Sue and Johnny head to a science conference, Ben tells Johnny he’ll be raiding his underwear drawer since he doesn’t have any clean pairs to enjoy lounging in while he watches TV and eats junk food. Although Johnny insists that Ben stay out of his underwear drawer, Ben can’t resist trying on every pair of Johnny’s underwear – at once – letting his rocky exterior stretch out the elastic especially in the expensive pairs.
Ben’s insistence of wear every pair of Johnny’s underwear that he owns references Chandler and Joey’s iconic argument in Friends. In the Season Three episode “The One Where No One’s Ready,” Joey and Chandler argue when Joey won’t get out of Chandler’s seat despite the fact that he left to go to the bathroom. After Joey gives up the seat but takes the chair’s cushions with him, Chandler gets him back by stealing all of Joey’s underwear, meaning Joey would have to go commando in a rented tux for Ross’s museum function. Joey promises to do the opposite of Chandler’s retaliation and eventually returns wearing everything that his roommate owns while still maintaining commando status. Ben heard Johnny’s request and saw a perfect opportunity to prank him by doing a reverse commando, wearing only Johnny’s underwear over his own shorts. It’s the kind of thing that would probably impress and horrify Chandler and Joey, depending on whose underwear he was wearing at the time.
Ben’s enjoyment of ruining Johnny’s fancy underwear and lounging while watching television is interrupted when he remembers that he had to pick up sweets from his favorite cannoli place, the acquisition and consumption of these highly coveted treats being the real focus of the story. Writer/artist Eric Powell tells a great story that moves quickly but still takes the time to balance action, humor, and exposition with a hilarious ending. The only thing funnier than the Thing referencing Friends with his prank is imagining Johnny Storm’s face when he learns what’s happened or what he’d do in retaliation.