That’s the joke you’re going with, 1970s-era Marvel and / or Topps? Well, okay then.
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That’s the joke you’re going with, 1970s-era Marvel and / or Topps? Well, okay then.
So I received a used copy of this hardcover in a collection I purchased the other day:
And, well, I did have it in the shop as a new item before, but I never really did sit down and give it a good looking-at then, despite my enjoyment of Don Newton’s Batman. Thus, before putting it out for sale I thought I’d take it home and give it a read…what, it’s going to get more used? …Well, okay, yeah, I suppose it is, but I’ve the gentle touch of a professional comics handler, and can easily peruse this volume without causing further discoloration, dogearing, spine stress, or, God help us, foxing.
Anyway, I was a fan of Newton’s work, both on Batman and on Infinity Inc., which he had just started to work on when he passed away in 1984 at the too-young age of 49. Reading this book, I find myself struck by one thing, which will hardly be a new or original comment in regards to these sorts of reprint projects, but nevertheless it’s still an honest reaction. The pages are just too white and clean. The Young Mike that’s still rattling around in my head is expecting to be reading these stories on brown-ish newsprint. In fact, when I mentally picture Newton’s art, I imagine dark, moody images…all shadows and mystery. Reprinting in this book on bright pages with bright coloring, even the shadows look like you’re staring at the sun. …Okay, I exaggerate slightly, but still, it was a bit jarring to have the art right in front of me and contradicting my memories of same.
And before you say anything, yes, Infinity Inc. was printed on bright white paper with eye-searingly bright colors, but Newton’s sadly brief tenure there doesn’t have the nostalgic hold his Batman work has for me.
As I was writing this, another sorta unsung comics artist fave of mine came to mind that I’d like to see reprinted in a book like this. I’d totally be all over The Complete Irv Novick.
One of my readers was kind enough to point out that, in an old post of mine…I mean, really old, within the first month of this site’s life…one of the links I’d posted way back then had apparently since gone feral and now pointed to a porn site. Okay, first off…porn on the Internet? When did that start? And secondly…yeah, link rot. This site is on the verge of turning nine years old, and I’m sure many links in a lot of my old posts now go to destinations I did not originally intend. I mean, if I was sending you to a dirty filthy dirty site, I was usually pretty good about warning you up front.
I’ve heard about some people going through and consistently maintaining and / or removing links on old posts, but frankly, it’s hard enough to find the time to keep with new posts, or sleep. And then there was the great Blogger-to-Wordpress shift I underwent in early ’10, which resulted in some formatting and archived-post issues, and then whatever that company was that was supporting the old commenting system cut that support, so links to those comments are now no bueno, I guess, and…man, sometimes I feel doing a reboot, and just starting this website from scratch. FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNEW BEFORE: WELCOME TO THE NEW PROGRESSIVE RUIN! and then I’d never refer to anything before that date ever again.
I’m not going to do it, but, back past a certain point, my site’s a mess. I do still go back and fix links and formatting and stuff if I have occasion to link to an old post, so I’m not letting things totally fall into barbarism, but…well, just assume any super old link is probably taking you straight to a site that’ll sell you V1aG4a or promise you pictures of people inserting Tab A into Slot B.
However, I am happy to note that I still occasionally edit my very first post to make sure it’s still sending you where I want you to go. Man, had I known they’d be fiddling with those addresses every year or so, I’d have picked something else for my debut entry.
Reader d asks
“Hey Mike, we all know you have every Swamp & Man Thing appearance, but do you collect The Heap as well? Just curious.”
Well, I don’t have every Man-Thing appearance…I do have every one written by Steve Gerber, as well as the first appearance in Savage Tales (not by Gerber), but from about the ’90s forward, I’ve been a little pickier about touching Man-Things.
That has nothing to do with the actual thrust of your question, which is all about the Heap, the original comic book swamp monster dating back to the 1940s. Sadly…no, I haven’t gone out of my way to seek out Heap comics, though I have picked up some of the latter day revivals, such as this 1971 one-shot I’ve discussed in the past, or this new version from Moonstone, or the Airboy/Mr. Monster one-shot from 1987, in which the Heap plays a prominent role, and is a great comic, to boot.
The original Heap comics are about to be reprinted in a series of three hardcover volumes, and I’m still waffling a bit on whether I can afford to pick these up for myself. My usual argument to talk myself into such things is “if I don’t get them now, I’ll probably never have another chance, at least this (relatively) cheaply,” so we’ll see. I am tempted.
On a related note, in that it’s asked in the same comments section, Casey wonders
“Mike, have you ever done a post about toxic Teen Titans continuity?”
Oh God, no. What I’d wished I had done is recorded pal Dorian and myself going on and on and hashing it all out and realizing that some of the time frames involved would make some of the adult characters a lot older than they should be, or that some of the lengths of time of team membership would be extremely short, or…hell, I don’t remember now. This was prior to DC kind of pushing the “sliding scale” of the Modern DC Superhero Universe to being about 20 years old, as of Identity Crisis, which I recall thinking was a slightly more reasonable time frame, given the amount of “important” events and continuity, not just for the Titans but for everyone, you had to squeeze in there.
Of course, post-Flashpoint, that scale is now about 5 or 6 years, depending on who you ask, I guess, so it’s all a moot point. And I hear tell Titans continuity has even more exciting problems now, as in some indecision whether there were previous Titans teams or not, but I leave the pondering of that question to younger, abler folks than myself.
And then sometimes I repost a gag I already made on the Twitter, such as presenting this gag header from Archie’s Joke Book #134 (March 1969 – hey, my birth month!) and lamenting the fact that in no way does the story live up to this title:
…which is just as well, since Archie couldn’t participate anyway:
Oh, scatological humor! You’re the best!
To bring things back around to the nostalgia of Young Mike from the beginning of this post, just before I soiled it all with continuity nitpicking, porn, poop jokes, and Man-Thing innuendo, I found myself the other day discussing the joys of Omega Men with a customer of mine.
Although I had read the introduction of the Omega Men in those three or so issues of Green Lantern, I didn’t follow them to their own series (which experienced some small controversy in its early issues due to depictions of violence, back in the “they didn’t know how good they had it” days of fandom). It took Alan Moore, a writer of some note, writing a back-up in two successive issues of the series (#26, pictured, and #27) to get me to take a look…and quite wisely, a new storyline in the main feature started up at that same time, giving Moore-ites like me a solid jumping-on point. It helped that 1) the new regular artist on the series was Shawn McManus, for whom I was developing a strong appreciation, and 2) that the comic itself was just a darned weird, creepy, and plain ol’ interesting sci-fi adventure.
As I was talking about the book with the customer, a couple of things dawned on me that, I suppose, shouldn’t have surprised me but did anyway. The actual run of that “new direction” for Omega Men, from #26 to the book’s eventual cancellation, was only 13 issues, plus an annual. It sure felt like it was longer…not in a bad way, I mean. It’s that a whole lot of stuff happened along the course of that comic, and it’s hard to believe they managed to fit it all into only about a year’s worth of stories (well, technically a year…I think some issues ran a bit late, if I recall correctly). Also, there was a Teen Titans crossover, and, of all things, a Crisis on Infinite Earths-engineered Blue Devil crossover, and an appearance in DC Comics Presents, so that probably helped in the perception of the comics’ apparent length.
The other thing that dawned on me was that the series wrapped up while I was still in high school, which doesn’t feel weird for anyone but me, I realize, but still, it seems like it’s more recent than that. Ah, well…tempus fugit, and all that.
I’ve since picked up the remainder of the series, which of course includes the first appearance of Lobo (which guides at a low $7.00, which sort of surprises me, except I suppose Omega Men print runs at the time were fairly large), and despite the occasional terrifying Kevin O’Neill art job, those earlier issues were fairly staid compared to the outright craziness of the McManus-era stories. Still fun, and worth checking out if you can find ‘em cheap, which they usually are.
Just to let you folks know, I’m probably entering Low Content Mode for the rest of the week, or at least lower content mode…the Thanksgiving holiday is coming up, and I’ve also got another project I’m working on at the moment that requires the focus of my creative energy, he said in a hopefully non-New Agey way, so probably you’ll not be seeing much more out of me this week aside from maybe a pic or two. Or you can follow me on the Twitter where I’m still likely to spout off about something. At any rate, I’ll see you on the other side, and please enjoy your Thanksgiving, where applicable, and everyone else, enjoy your Thursday. Thanks for reading!
Oh, here’s the end of the post! I was wondering where that was.
Don’t worry, I’m reasonably certain this isn’t leading into another two weeks’ worth of Man-Thing posts.
Some follow-ups to Monday’s Man-Thing post, because why not?
“Out of curiosity, is there enough Man-Thing material to generate a second omnibus?”
There’s more Man-Thing out there…there was this short-lived ongoing, the serial from Marvel Comics Presents, assorted cameos, that one Giant-Size Spider-Man issue, I think an Iron Man annual, this thing, and so on. I don’t know if it’s another 1,200 pages, or anywhere close to justifying another omnibus, but it’s a not-insignificant amount of Man-Thing.
Also, the more I think about it, the more I am coming to believe that the omission of Marvel Two-in-One #1 from the contents listing I reprinted in my last post was simply an accident. It’s not impossible that they left that issue out for whatever reason, but it seems very unlikely. I’m betting it’s in there. …Well, not enough to bet $125 on it, but I’ll let one of you buy it and tell me for certain.
“And of course we may never see the reprint of the Man-Thing appearance in ‘Micronauts’ because of all the legal rights involved.”
And that’s a shame. I feel pretty safe in suspecting the solution is “money, and lots of it” but I doubt the financial return in obtaining usage rights to reprint one story would be worthwhile. But, heck, it’s not like that particular issue is too hard to find. Ask a comic book guy near you! Or even ask me…I’ve probably got one or three in our back issue assortment, somewhere.
Someone remind me to poke through my Overstreet when next I have an opportunity to see if these reprint-verboten issues are suddenly commanding slightly higher prices than their freely-reprintable comrades surrounding them in those particular runs. I think there’s a Hulk trade paperback just recently solicited that skips over this issue, and of course there’s that one issue of Power Man and Iron Fist that’s forgotten by God and man and Marvel’s reprint department. I’ll have to see if the stockpiles of those issues I’ve been investing in are sellable now…wait, what? No, I didn’t say that. Must’ve been someone else.
And speaking of Man-Thing…I don’t think I’ve noted anywhere on the site yet that Steve Gerber’s final Man-Thing script is seeing print in the forthcoming three-issue mini Infernal Man-Thing (starting in June), illustrated by Kevin Nowlan. Here is Nowlan’s cover for #1:
…which is one of three covers for that first issue, and you can see the other two in this Marvel.com article about the series. …No, I’m not getting every variant cover for this series. Why, that would be crazy.
So then there was this in the most recent Previews catalog: a 1,200 page Man-Thing Omnibus:
And here is what it contains, cut ‘n’ pasted directly from the solicitation text because I’m not going to retype it:
“Collecting ASTONISHING TALES (1970) #12-13; FEAR #11-18, and material from #10 and #19; MAN-THING (1974) #1-22, GIANT-SIZE MAN-THING #1-3 and material from #4-5, INCREDIBLE HULK (1968) #197-198; MARVEL TEAM-UP (1972) #68; MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #43; MAN-THING (1979) #1-11; DR. STRANGE (1974) #41; and material from SAVAGE TALES (1971) #1, MONSTERS UNLEASHED #5 and #8-9, and RAMPAGING HULK (1977) #7.”
First thought is, as Chris more or less implied in his response to my Twitter post about this book, if anything deserves to be called Giant-Size Man-Thing, it’s this monstrosity. Secondly, it seems odd that they’d pass up Marvel Two-in-One #1 while including Marvel Two-in-One #43, which is also (as I recall) the second part of a two-part story. Plus, there are a couple of other appearances of Manny in this general time period that don’t appear to be part of the contents…but they gotta leave something for Man-Thing Omnibus: The Second Volumening, I guess.
The $125 price tag is a bit dear, but let’s face it…no one is going to pay full retail for this. And it’ll probably cut off circulation to your lower extremities if you keep this book in your lap while reading for too long. But, it would be nice to have good reprints of this material, in color, on white paper. Some of the older comics were printed on…not the best paper available for magazine use, and certain artistic decisions (like printing white text on black backgrounds) can make some of the stories a bit of a challenge to read. I’m interested, of course, but I may just hold out for a more affordable format. (A color format, I should add, since I know Marvel has the black and white Essentials books reprinting a lot of this same work.)
One more note: I could have sworn something like this already came out, but I didn’t see any record of it in our distributor’s stock listings. Maybe I was just imagining things…Man-Things, that is!
A brief site update: I think I am a lot happier with the reduced posting schedule. I’m enjoying working on the posts more, and it feels like I’m actually having something to say rather than having to say something. Even the single-image gag posts are the result of just having come across those images and wanting to share them, rather than scouring books seeking out something to scan.
In addition, the new schedule frees me up to do things like, oh, reread the entire run of The Boys thus far, in preparation for the series wrapping up in the few months. I don’t have a whole lot to say about that, other than noting that the story certainly flowed a lot more smoothly for me reading it over a relatively short period of time, instead of an issue a month for about six years. Easy to lose some of the nuances, and to lose track of some of the set-ups and payoffs, of the plot when you’ve got four weeks between installments.
Anyway, got sidetracked a bit there…what I’m trying to say is that I’m ultimately pleased with having dropped the pace down a bit here at the site, and I hope that comes across in what I’m doing. Thanks for your patience, and for sticking around and reading my nonsense.
The fellow with one of the greatest handles ever, Professor Booty, asks in the comments to yesterday’s post
“I own exactly 0 Swamp Thing comics. I became quite interested in the character through your blog, but I don’t wanna read all that current stuff – I’d much rather grab some tradepaperbacks or other collected back issues. What would you recommend? I’m all for the (pretty) easily available & quintessential Swamp Thing stuff to get me going.”
The best two books to start with are these:
Roots of the Swamp Thing: this is available in hardcover right now, and in softcover in a few months (it’s only a $10 difference…get the hardcover!). This reprints the original House of Secrets short, and the first thirteen issues of the original series, which comprises all the stories written by ST cocreator Len Wein, the ten issues drawn by the other cocreator Bernie Wrightson, and three issues drawn by Nestor Redondo. The overall story arc comes to an end of sorts, with a nice send-off by Wein in the last chapter that harkens back to the House of Secrets debut. But this will show you how it all started, and what the status quo of the character is…
…so that when it’s totally blown apart in the second book I’m recommending, Saga of the Swamp Thing hardcover volume one, you feel its full impact. I’m recommending the hardcover versus the softcover edition because 1) the hardcover includes issue #20 of Saga of the Swamp Thing, which is Alan Moore’s first issue but not reprinted prior to this. It was seen more as an end to the previous storyline and not a suitable beginning to a trade paperback, which was crazy talk, frankly; and
2) there was a production issue with a caption being dropped off from the end of issue #24 (“…And meet the sun”) in prior reprintings, which is now fixed in the hardcover. (I think it wasn’t there in earlier printings of the hardcover, so you may want to check.) EDIT 8/21: I totally lied…it’s fixed in the recent edition of the paperback but the Saga of hardcover is still missing the caption. Sorry, my memory is apparently…um, something.
Ideally, if you can get your hands on issues #16 – #19 of Saga of the Swamp Thing, which have never been reprinted in trade form (as far as I know, at least in the U.S.), you probably should. These are the issues that reintroduce Swamp Thing’s arch-nemesis Arcane, and also bring aboard the art team of Steve Bissette and John Totleben, who are as responsible for Swampy’s later success and critical acclaim as Moore was. It is this Arcane story that Saga #20 was the epilog for. (You can probably skip #18, which reprinted issue #10 of the original series, but still had a new framing sequence by the new crew.)
And that’s not just for Professor Booty. I expect all of you reading this right now to rush out and buy these. I want your book reports on my desk by Monday.
In other Swamp Thing news:
- Also pointed out in yesterday’s comments by Professor Booty is this contribution to the “DC Fifty-Too” project (where artists create their own covers for theoretically-relaunched DC #1s). …I’m trying to think if Swamp Thing and the Creeper ever met, or were even in the same panel (like in a Crisis tie-in) or on the same cover or something, at some point. Up way too late and am way too tired to think of any right now, but one of you smart people out there will remind me if such a thing exists.
- Chris sent me a note pointing me in the direction of this swell sketch of…Man-Thing? Well, it’s not Swamp Thing, but it’ll do, it’ll do.
You might as well give it up, because you can’t beat this:
Scanned from FOOM #10 (June 1975). I sure hope the poor guy had some battery-operated fans in there. Also, he wasn’t carrying a sign – that’s the title of the article superimposed over the photo. I only mention it because I know you jokers will crack wise about it in the comments.
Tomorrow: some non-FOOM content. Hopefully.
So let’s wrap up these two weeks of Man-Thinging with a little bit of class, as we turn our gaze upon one of comicdom’s favorite only-just-barely-double entendres, the title of the five issue series Giant-Size Man-Thing.
We’ve all heard the jokes, a few have popped up in the comments for my last few posts, and I’m sure you’ve noticed how I’ve tagged my Man-Thing entries. I even had someone message me on the Twitter, commenting on how “Man-Thing” sounds like a euphemism for “penis,” and I almost responded “Huh…never noticed that before,” but I couldn’t be that much of a jerk. I do wonder if someone at Marvel in the ’70s ever went through their catalog of titles and suddenly realized what they’d done by adding Man-Thing to their “Giant-Size” line of books. “Let’s see…Giant-Size Avengers, Giant-Size Fantastic Four, Giant-Size Invaders, Giant-Size Man-Thing, Giant-Size Spider-M…wait, hold on.”
The last time I addressed it, I asserted that there was only one “in-universe” Giant-Size Man-Thing gag that I knew of, and some of you responded letting me know of a couple of others I’d forgotten about.
The one I’d mentioned comes from issue #6 of the 1997 Man-Thing series by J.M. DeMatteis and Liam Sharp, where Manny’s old pal Howard the Duck observes the creature magically increasing in size, and Howard’s commentary is as follows:
Some folks, both in my comments and across the Internet, have mentioned a gag in Peter David’s Captain Marvel series where a character protects his modesty with a copy of Giant-Size Man-Thing. However, it’s not Rick Jones, but rather a person (unnamed during this storyline) who appears to be the Modern Age version of the Red Raven, and who had been transformed into a bird by Merlin, and…well, there’s a lot to get into here. Suffice to say, he ended up nekkid and in search of his armor, appropriated by another character, and there you go. Here’s the scene from Captain Marvel #21 (Sept. 2001) by David, ChrisCross and Anibal Rodriguez:
Some additional information, including some possible background on the gag, can be found at the end of this Marvel Universe Appendix entry.
And here’s the one in-universe gag I didn’t own, but has since been provided to me by that most stuffed of little stuffed bulls, Bully. (He’s too young to get the joke, so don’t tell him, okay?) From Deadpool Team-Up #894 (June 2010) by Ivan Brandon, Sanford Greene and Nathan Massengill:
And there you have it, a tour of Giant Size Man-Thing jokes from within the Marvel Universe itself. If there are more, I’m sure we’ll hear about ‘em in the comments.
Thank you, everyone, for putting up with my peculiar obsession with Marvel’s swamp monster over the last couple of weeks. Sometimes I just get that urge and have to let it all hang out.
For the last word on Man-Thing (for now) let us go back to the very first words, as they were blurbed on the cover of the mag with Manny’s debut, Savage Tales #1 (May 1971):
Well, sure, why not.
So I ending up spending my bloggin’ time Tuesday night looking for a particular Man-Thing appearance that, it turns out, I didn’t have in the Vast Mikester Comic Archives, and I kinda needed it for what was intended to be the end of the Man-Thing posts. Yeah, I know, you’re all sad it’s coming to an end, but as a result of my inability to find that one comic, that final post is pushed back a day, and today you all are getting…Bonus Man-Thing!
Well, it’s not much, really…just his two appearances from Marvel’s alternate-timeline/future/whatever mini-series Universe X. Here’s Man-Thing apparently leaping into action against Dormammu, from issue #0 (September 2000) by Jim Krueger, Alex Ross, Doug Braithwaite, Bill Reinhold, Al Williamson, and Robin Riggs:
And here he is fighting the Micronauts in a flashback to Micronauts #7 (July 1979), accompanied by a brief synopsis of his origin, from issue #5 (February 2000) by Krueger, Ross, Braithwaite, and Garry Leach:
So there you go, Man-Thing’s brief appearances in a series with a cast of thousands. I don’t really have any commentary on this aside from “well, don’t that all look right nifty.” But it is nice when the comic book companies remember to include the poor, maligned swamp monsters in their multi-issue mega-event crossover/Elseworlds/hoohars, even if it is just for a couple of panels.
Issue #9 of the second Man-Thing series (March 1981) was a one-off story by Dickie McKenzie and beautifully illustrated by Larry Hama and Danny Buladani, which certainly deserves a little more attention than what I’m giving it today, but I’m bringing it up because of what you see here in this panel:
Nice pic, right? I trimmed out the overlapping panels in that scan because, well, that’s what I usually do since the excess art tends to distract a bit. But, here’s a small image of the full page, showing how that particular panel pops out at the reader:
Nicely done, I think. Anyway, what I wanted to point out is that, not only is Man-Thing drawn with only four fingers (or three fingers and a thumb, for you “members of the band, plus the drummer” people out there) on each hand instead of his usual five, it’s also made into a contest of sorts on the letters page for this issue:
Sadly, this Man-Thing series ends two issues later, so if there were any reader responses, they were, as far as I know, unreported.
My own explanation is simply that we’ve seen Man-Thing regrow his body after being nearly destroyed by some attack or another, and that maybe sometimes not everything grows back the same way…like occasionally missing a digit or two. Hey, why not.
By the way, the very first issue of this Man-Thing series also had Manny with the wrong number of fingers on the cover, prompting a reader to point that out in a letter printed in issue #3. The editorial response:
“…Yes, Bashful Bob Wiacek did forget the extra digits on his premiere cover (and former Marvel editor Roger Stern kids Bob about it every chance he gets!)”
I’d like to think Mr. Stern is still kidding Mr. Wiacek about it. “Hey, remember that Man-Thing cover you did 30 years ago?” “Oh, come on….”
So a couple of years back, I mentioned that, in the Classic Marvel Figurine Collection: Man-Thing Special, I learned that Stan Lee himself came up with the name “Man-Thing,” a bit of trivia I hadn’t known before. Well, either I’d forgotten that I had read this before, or I just skipped over the text pages in the mag containing Manny’s debut, Savage Tales #1 (May 1971), but, well:
…that Stan Lee factoid was no secret. Ah, well, can’t remember everything, I guess. I am intrigued that Lee and Rascally Roy Thomas had discussed several possible origins for the creature, which I wonder have actually been revealed anywhere in any articles or interviews. Of course, given my track record, I probably have read something about them and simply forgot. Again. Also, after reading the above text box, I need never see any variation on the phrase “turned on” ever again.
In the origin story from this issue of Savage Tales, by Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Gray Morrow, there is another very rare example of the Man-Thing vocalizing:
A while back I noted another early Man-Thing appearance where they had him grunting and gesturing, which has since been established as not being within Man-Thing’s skill set, and I said at the time this was likely a result of Man-Thing’s particular characteristics still getting nailed down. Looking at this chronological list of Man-Thing’s appearances, the stories from those Astonishing Tales appear to be the character’s first appearances after the debut, so I can’t really fault them for following the first story’s lead in giving Man-Thing a voice, of sorts.
Tomorrow: More Man-Thing? Probably!