Elsie Grimm

Mrs. GrimmFinally, time for the last character appeared in the disappointing Fantastic Four, another secondary one. When little Ben Grimm is beaten by his brother Jimmy, their mother come to the rescue, letting Ben go and beating Jimmy just as hard as he was doing with his little brother. The woman, credited only as Mrs. Grimm, was portrayed by Mary-Pat Green, and is the protagonist of one of the few truly satisfying scenes (unfortunately, she never appears again). In the comics, Mrs. Grimm is called Elsie, and she doesn’t appear much more in her son’s life. Anyway, let’s see together who she is.

Not much is known about Elsie’s past, not even her maiden name. Her original name, before she legally changed it into Elsie, was Elsi, and she was born somewhere in Eastern Europe. Because of poverty and of lack of perspectives for the future, she eventually left her family and her homecountry and she moved to the United States of America, settling in New York City. In the Big Apple she met Daniel Grimm, a man she fell in love with and whom she eventually married. Life in the States wasn’t exactly an easy one, especially because Elsie was alone and far away from her family: when her mother died, she learnt of it only through a letter, and wasn’t able to come back home even for her funerals. Luckily enough, when she married Daniel she was welcomed as part of his family, elsiegrimmcomics1especially by Sophie, Daniel’s sister, who became for Elsie much more than a sister-in-law. Real problems began the moment Daniel started drinking: they had never been rich, quite the opposite, but her husband’s alcohol problem lowered their income even more, to the point that Elsie was forced to be the one to actually provide something for herself and her husband, rather than the opposite. When her first son, Daniel Jr., was born, Elsie knew she had to take care of him even on her husband’s behalf, something that, at the time, wasn’t easy at all for a woman. Then, when Daniel was a teenager, Elsie got pregnant a second time, and when her second son Ben was born, she realised she wouldn’t have been able to provide food on the table for everyone, despite the help she got from Sophie and the rest of the Grimms…but help came from an unexpected (and unwanted) source.

Seeing himself as “the man of the house”, since Daniel Sr. was an alcoholic unable to take care of his family and Ben was still a child, Daniel Jr. took upon himself the task of providing to his mother and little brother, and Elsie found herself unable to stop him from entering the local Yancy Street Gang, a group of juvenile delinquents Danny gathered and led. Thanks to his “business” with the Gang, Daniel was able to bring home some money, and Elsie couldn’t do anything but to accept it, knowing it was the best income she could count upon. Money still was scarce, but Elsie did her best with what she had, making “cabbage & beans” her specialty of the house; with everything else, the woman took the same care, and she managed to make Ben live happily despite poverty. Knowing far too well what kind of risks Daniel Jr. faced, Elsie did everything she could to keep Ben away from the world of street gangs, but he idolized his brother, and despite her best efforts she just couldn’t prevent him from following Danny in his “adventures” with the Yancy Street Gang. Trying to save Ben from anything bad elsiegrimmcomics2happening around him, however, was futile, as Elsie soon understood: Sophie, who had always helped Elsie in raising her children, was Ben’s favourite aunt, and when he was still a child she got cancer, and she died soon after, a loss for Elsie who was now missing a true sister, and for Ben as well. Things got even worse when Danny, during a brawl with a rival gang, got fatally stabbed, thus fulfilling Elsie’s worst fears: at the police station, where the woman reached Ben (who had witnessed to his brother’s death), an officer asked her of her husband, and she gloomily had to admit that she didn’t know where he was, since he was out drinking as always. Without a family backing her up anymore, and without her older son who had taken care of them for so long, Elsie was now alone in raising Ben, not an easy task in a neighborhood such as hers, with a husband such as hers…

Elsie Grimm is a good-hearted woman who had a lot of bad luck in her life. She deeply loves her children, and she’d like to be able to take care of them properly, but between a drunken husband and a dangerous neighborhood it’s simply impossible for her alone to protect them. Despite so much pain in her life, so much loss and loneliness, Elsie keeps trying, an every-day heroine who doesn’t surrender to a world she wants to save her children from.

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