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!"
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