Sunday, 19 March 2017

Man-Thing [2017] #1 - Marvel Comics

MAN-THING No. 1, May 2017
Whilst it arguably makes plenty of sense on paper for “a Marvel Comics editor” to approach an author whose “books have sold over 400 million copies” and ask him “would he like to” pen a comic title, Issue One of “Man-Thing” is probably a good example as to just how wrong such an ‘innovative’ approach can prove. For whilst this sixteen-page publication does contain a rather enjoyable ‘flashback’ to the abomination’s origin when scientist Ted Sallis self-injected his “deadly serum” into his arm whilst fleeing some armed thugs through the Florida Everglades, the rest of R.L. Stine’s narrative is a far cry from the “playful… self-referential Steve Gerber mode” he was apparently trying to emulate.

Indeed, in many ways it’s hard to imagine this book’s plot proving massively “influential on such writers as Neil Gaiman” when it so badly mistreats the “cult classic” titular character. It’s certainly difficult to take anyone’s script even semi-seriously when it starts by having the “large, slow-moving, empathic, humanoid swamp monster” fighting the giant Silver Centipede and its “poisonous mandibles”, before going on to portray a vicious, cold-blooded criminal spouting such nonsense as “Hey! Can we talk about this? I didn’t bring my swimsuit!” when Stan Lee’s co-creation is about to brutally kill him by hurling his pick-up truck into the marshland…

Just as disconcerting is the Ohio-born novelist’s apparent irreverence to his source material's lengthy heritage. Admittedly, the idea of developing a storyline within which “the typically silent Man-Thing” never utters a word is probably something of a challenge. But that shouldn’t mean that the beast’s normally lacking human intellect and desire “not to communicate with human society” anymore should simply be reversed in order to portray the superhumanly strong monster as a recently fired ‘jobbing’ actor who “spent everything I had to come to Burbank from the swamp” and subsequently “can’t even get a drink” in a bar because they “have a dress code.”

Fortunately, besides German Peralta’s excellent-looking renderings of Ted Sallis’ alter-ego, this comic has one saving grace in the shape of its secondary story “Put A Ring On It”. Somewhat ‘roughly hewn’ by artist Daniel Johnson, this ‘terror tale’ contains precisely the sinister suspense Stine’s earlier adventure “A Different Direction” sorely lacks, and ends on a particularly chilling vibe as a murderous pianist encounters the Enchanter Ruby.
Writer: R.L. Stine, Artist: German Peralta, and Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg

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