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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Marvel's Man-Thing Rises from the Swamp Once More...

When it comes to supernatural swamp creatures in comics, I've always been more of a fan of the sorely under-used Man-Thing, as opposed to his much more well-known counterpart over at DC. Created during the horror-comic renaissance of the 1970s along with other Marvel characters like Blade, Ghost Rider and Morbius, Man-Thing was a creepy, enigmatic figure that haunted the outer boundaries of my comic-collecting childhood. I never knew much about him because he never made many appearances, yet his image and nature were so striking that I snatched up whatever I could find (and yes, the title "Giant-Size Man-Thing" was just about the funniest thing my 11-year-old brain could imagine.)

Unfortunately, like many of the post-1960s Marvel characters, Man-Thing was just never quite popular enough to sustain his own series for any great length of time. Most recently, I recall a short-lived run a few years back that was quite good, written by J.M. DeMatteis, best known for the famous 1987 "Kraven's Last Hunt" Spider-Man storyline.

But now, Marvel has introduced a new take on the Man-Thing in a special four-part miniseries for it's mature-readers "MAX" line. It's called Dead of Night, taken from the title of a 1970s Marvel horror comic. Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the series retells the character's origin, with each of the four issues told in a different style of horror storytelling. The first one, which I picked up a few days ago, is a tip of the hat to the classic EC Comics in every way, even including its own Crypt Keeper-style "host" Digger--a character lifted from obscure 1969-1970 Marvel horror book Tower of Shadows.


According to an interview Aguirre-Sacasa gave to CBR News, the second issue will be told in the style of the 1960s-70s Warren magazines Eerie and Creepy; issue #3 will be in 1970s exploitation horror flick style; and the finale will unfold like James Cameron-esque '80s action-horror. The art is done by a different artist in each issue--the one I'm familiar with is issue #3's illustrator Javier Saltares, who did excellent work on the early 1990s Ghost Rider.

After reading issue #1, I highly recommend Dead of Night for anyone who loves horror comics. Marvel is doing a great job with a character that deserves more attention--or who at least deserves to be redeemed after that god-awful direct-to-SciFi-Channel movie adaptation of a couple years back. Just try not to be too afraid, because in case you forgot, "All who know fear burn at the Man-Thing's touch!"

6 comments:

Ryne said...

This sounds really cool, and that art looks fantastic.

B-Sol said...

That's page one of issue one. The art for the Digger sequences like that one is done by Nick Percival. The rest of issue #1 is by Kano and Javier Rodriguez.

Garg the Unzola said...

I really like that style.
And I can't help but notice the resemblence between Man-thing and Cthulhu!

B-Sol said...

Never thought about that Garg, there really is a resemblance. It's a safe bet Lovecraft was an influence.

Horror Guy said...

As a long time comics reader in general, and a Man-Thing fanatic to be more specifc, I gotta say I thought the first issue rocked! And by the way, I passed along the "E for Excellent" community blog award to Vault of Horror. Yer site is impressive; thanks for the solid contribution to the horror blogosphere! If yer so inclined, swing by the Horror Guy site and grab the graphic from the post about the award.

Anonymous said...

^^

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