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§ July 20th, 2011 § Filed under FOOM, giant-size man-thing § 10 Comments

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.

Giant-Size Man-Thing.

§ March 24th, 2011 § Filed under giant-size man-thing § 9 Comments

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.

Bonus Man-Thing!

§ March 23rd, 2011 § Filed under giant-size man-thing § 10 Comments

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.

“Man-Thing of the Eight Fingers and the Swamp of Doom.”

§ March 22nd, 2011 § Filed under giant-size man-thing § 9 Comments

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….”

“Don’t read it in bed – unless nightmares turn you on.”

§ March 21st, 2011 § Filed under giant-size man-thing § 10 Comments

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!

“At hand.” Get it?

§ March 20th, 2011 § Filed under giant-size man-thing § 11 Comments

Reader Googum left a comment the other day about remembering a bit in a Man-Thing story where Manny was on the verge of becoming human, but didn’t have the intelligence to realize that his cure was at hand. I believe this may be the sequence in question, from the end of Marvel Two-in-One #43 (September 1978) by Ralph Macchio, John Byrne, “and friends,” it says in the credits:

Frankly, that’s kind of a creepy image, Man-Thing with a human hand at the end of his swampy arm, right?

Also, and I just spent a few minutes down in the Vast Mikester Comic Archives looking for this, I have my own vague memory that the next time we see Man-Thing, he still has that human hand. I’m probably just remembering incorrectly, but I can swear I recall some story opening with Man-Thing lumbering through the swamp, and the surprise reveal is that he still has a normal hand (though it eventually reverts, as indicated in the final caption above). The next chronological appearance of the character is in Micronauts #7, and it’s not there, so I suspect I’m just imagining it. But darned if I don’t feel like it’s something I’ve read! Maybe one of you folks out there can help out your pal Mike, who’s clearly reached the “mind’s the next to go” part of the aging process.

EDIT: Okay, disregard that, as I finally did the smart thing and did a little Googling (“man-thing with a human hand” if you must know) which turned up this article, and apparently what I’m remembering is from Man-Thing #7-#8 (July-August 1974) by Steve Gerber and Mike Ploog:

…in which, at the end of #7, Man-Thing is exposed to the waters of the Fountain of Youth, and one of his hands reverts to human form. And of course, the next issue picks up with more exciting one-human-hand Man-Thing action, which is why I’m recalling that particular plot twist continuing over multiple issues. ANOTHER IMPORTANT MYSTERY SOLVED.

• • •

By the way, all this Man-Thing talk has finally got me wanting to pick up this short-run 1990s series by J.M. DeMatteis and Liam Sharp…and wouldn’t you know it, we’re missing the last issue at the shop. Ah, well…that’s why God gave us the eBay, so I’ll get the missing ish that way. And besides, this series contains, if I recall correctly, the only in-universe “Giant-Size Man-Thing” gag (made by Howard the Duck, no less), and surely no Man-Thing collection is complete without that.

“Where am I? My mind…dulled….”

§ March 18th, 2011 § Filed under giant-size man-thing § 12 Comments

So the main difference between DC’s Swamp Thing and Marvel’s Man-Thing is that Swampy retained his intelligence during his transition from Alec Holland to monster, while Manny’s alter-ego Ted Sallis wasn’t quite so lucky. Man-Thing was a mindless beast (though admittedly the level of “mindlessness” varied depending on the needs of the plot), leaving Sallis unaware of his tragic fate. Except, of course, for the occasional mystical hoohar allowing Sallis to revert to human form or otherwise “resurface” from the depths of his monstrous prison.

This sequence, from Adventure into Fear #13 (April 1973), by Steve Gerber, Val Mayerik and Frank Bolle, is, I believe, the first time Sallis temporarily regains his humanity. Trapped in a chaotic interdimensional realm, Man-Thing finds himself in a room of mirrors:

In short order, Sallis, quickly realizing that the monster in the mirror is what he has become, is given the choice by Thog (remember him?) to either kill his friends to keep his humanity, or once again become a monster, and I’m pretty sure you can guess what Sallis chose.

There are further instances of the mind of Sallis reemerging from Man-Thing, such as this issue of Marvel Fanfare, but usually mystically transformed from his bestial form, or on some kind of spiritual plane. Only on a couple of occasions have we had the mind of Sallis directly functioning, kinda sorta, within the body of Man-Thing, such as during the early issues of the second Man-Thing series where Manny started receiving treatments to reform Sallis’s mind. In that storyline, the treatments were only just beginning to work when everything falls apart, the guy trying to treat Man-Thing gets killed, and Sallis’s mind dissipates again. But, in this What If continuation of the story, we do finally get full-on thought balloons bubbling out of Man-Thing’s head, and…frankly, it feels a bit strange getting insight on Man-Thing’s motivations from something other than second-person perspective captions.

By the way, I haven’t read a whole lot of Man-Thing from the last couple of decades. My primary sources on the character remain the Gerber material, so if there were instances of Sallis returning to human form or regaining his mind within the monster in more recent comics, I don’t know about them.

This is a very odd thing to be writing about, I realize.

So apparently this is going to be “Man-Thing Week.”

§ March 17th, 2011 § Filed under giant-size man-thing § 16 Comments

From Adventure into Fear #12, a nice sequence of panels drawn by Jim Starlin and Rich Buckler, script by Steve Gerber:

Don’t feel bad for that guy. He had it comin’.

Also, I’m so accustomed to associating Jim Starlin with “cosmic” or space opera comics, like Warlock and Dreadstar, that I forget about his horror work. Though I guess Starlin’s ‘Breed (third series coming soon!) falls within the “horror” category. And the Dreadstar-related graphic novel The Price straddles the line between sci-fi and horror. And he wrote Batman: The Cult, which kinda fits in that genre, and would you call Punisher: P.O.V. a horror comic? I don’t know. Having Bernie Wrightson as artist on two two latter titles kinda makes me lean in the direction of the “horror” description.

Anyway, back to the above comic excerpt: do artists still do the “skulls in the eyes indicating an impending death” thing anymore? I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen it, though I’m sure it’s popped up in some comic or another in recent months. It’s just one of those incredibly basic artistic storytelling shorthands that even if I saw it in one of this week’s comics, I probably wouldn’t have remembered. It’d be like asking “did any comic I recently read have a thought balloon in it?” and I’d be sure that there must have been, but wouldn’t be able to come up with a specific example off the top of my head without going back to look.

Finally…the guy could’ve just ran, honestly. It’s not like Man-Thing is known for his ability to sprint.

“Beat it — batter it — thresh it — flail it”

§ March 16th, 2011 § Filed under giant-size man-thing § 8 Comments

So all that Man-Thing talk from yesterday had me going through some of my older Man-Thing comics, and I thought I’d share this bit of business. It’s Manny beatin’ the crap out of his recurring devilish nemesis Thog, from Adventure into Fear #11 (Dec 1972) — the first Man-Thing story written by the writer who would be most associated with the character, Steve Gerber.

The art’s by Rich Buckler and Jim Mooney, and I don’t know who decided to put in that last panel with the “reaction shot” up there, but it amuses me for no good reason I can name. It’s like he’s just about to whip on his sunglasses and is on the verge of laying a David Caruso-esque one-liner on us. “This demon…couldn’t take the heat.” “YEEEAAAAAAAAAH!!!!”

Anyway…Man-Thing. Enjoy.

So I bought myself a comic book for my birthday.

§ March 15th, 2011 § Filed under giant-size man-thing, video games § 7 Comments

“What!? A comic book? The devil you say!” The devil I do say, and the comic I picked up was this one:

Even though I dropped Thunderbolts years ago after the Kurt Busiek/Fabian Nicieza storythreads pretty much petered out, I found myself intrigued when I saw that Jeff Parker introduced Man-Thing onto the team during his recent run. But, for whatever reason, I didn’t start reading the series again, though once this issue popped up in our weekly shipment, I had a hard time resisting that great Art Adams cover. Took me a couple of weeks, but I finally relented and picked the darned thing up.

The story inside is Man-Thing-focused, which was an added bonus (since in these modern days of funnybooks, the character featured on the cover may not necessarily be the character starring inside). For those of you who’ve been reading Thunderbolts this whole time…are there other issues of this series of late that are Man-Thing heavy?

• • •

For my birthday, the girlfriend gifted me with a couple of Xbox games, one of which being the Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 fightin’ game all you kids are into. Now, I don’t know any of the Capcom characters, really…well, Chun-Li I recognize, I suppose, from Street Fighter covers and those splayed-leg PVC statues from the back of the Previews catalogue. And I’m not entirely sure I understand the game just yet, as it’s a bit more complicated than the last video fighting game I played and so far, my play strategy has been “mash the buttons in a panic” over “ah, I have my opponent at a disadvantage, so I shall use this two button and joystick special combo-move to defeat him.”

My initial three-player team was Thor, Wolverine, and She-Hulk, and I managed to direct them successfully through several matches (on the easy level, of course), until I reached the battle versus Galactus and promptly had all three virtual butts handed to me. But, it was fun, and I imagine I’ll catch on to the subtleties of the game in short order.

There is the nice touch of having situation-appropriate dialogue when certain characters oppose each other (such as She-Hulk mentioning something about a family reunion when encountering her cousin, the Hulk). And apparently there’s a (non-playable cutscene, darnit) cameo for Man-Thing at some point, just to bring it back to the original topic of this post.

The other video game I was given was Soulcalibur IV, another fighting game, but this one has, somewhat inexplicably (despite some awkwardly-written in-game backstory attempting to explain), Yoda from the Star Wars series. So, apparently, at some point Yoda will be fighting this one gal with the thong swimsuit and a whip, which is, um, a bit weird, I guess. “MmmMMMmmm, catch a cold from a draft, you will!”

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