For most of his existence, Ben Grimm has been a joke. He’s the brute with a big mouth, playing second fiddle to Mr. Fantastic. Two developments have given him character besides being comic relief. The first is his long-time relationship with Alicia Masters, a blind woman who saw past his rocky exterior to the gentle man inside.
The second took place in 1982. The Thing, along with the strongest heroes in the Marvel universe, was abducted to provide challenge against The Champion. He travelled the cosmos, searching for a worthy opponent to stand against him in single combat.
Ben Grimm knows from the start he hasn’t got a prayer against one of the Elders of the Universe. But as Thor, Namor, Colossus, Sasquatch, The Hulk, and Wonder Man all fail, he learns that if The Champion doesn’t find satisfaction with Earth’s heroes, the planet will be destroyed to spare it the humiliation.
That’s all The Thing needs to know in order to drag his shattered body through 3 rounds of punishment, goading The Champion on with a few attacks of his own. Ben Grimm rises to the occasion and his spirit proves to be unbeatable.
“Any world that could spawn one such as you—is truly the worthiest of all!”
If the story sounds familiar, it was also given an almost panel for panel homage in the Dexter’s Lab / Dial M For Monkey episode with Rasslor, The Eternal Champion.
Marvel Two-In-One #7 (1982).