Written by R. L. Stine
Art by German Peralta, Rachelle Rosenberg, Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 8, 2017
In a behind the scenes video Marvel released this week, editor-in-chief, Axel Alonso states that “R. L. Stine doing Man-Thing is dreamcasting.” And he’s right. Part Goosebumps, part horror comic, and part unexpected adventure tale, Man-Thing #1 is a strong debut for a character that has historically garnered great fan interest, but frequently failed to deliver on expectations or hopes.
Man-Thing #1 opens with a battle between the Man-Thing another monstrosity in the heart of a swamp and the sixteen-page main story ends with another beastly battle. The issue is completed with a four-page backup tale that harkens back to the comic horror stories of yesteryear where the vile villain receives judgment matching his crime, and, in this case, the end is rather grisly.
In between, however, Stine gives readers a fine introduction to Man-Thing, as many consumers of this comic will certainly meet the Man-Thing based on the writer’s credentials rather than the character’s history. Sure, some folks might be coming at this with a bit more exposure, but coupled with smart, clean art from German Peralta, Stine’s story in Man-Thing #1 is a strong introduction.
Following Jeff Parker’s lead from when we last spent a significant amount of time with Man-Thing (in the pages of Thunderbolts), the mucky manifestation of Ted Sallis can – and does – talk. He also has coherent thoughts, and Stine shares those with us readers in both caption boxes and wonderfully welcome (although quite uncommon) thought bubbles. Stine uses that to track back to Man-Thing’s origin, getting the back-story out of the way in preparation for moving forward.
Peralta’s art is detailed, clean, and sharp. He works in subtle story details that should be obvious, such as how Man-Thing would deal with a door handle and the comparative bulk of the man-beast. Storytelling elements are present throughout Paralta’s art, both in-panel and through panels. The transformation sequence in particular is a magnificent sample of what Peralta brings to this book. Rachelle Rosenberg answers every beat that Peralta delivers, from the yellowing skin as Sallis transforms under the swamp’s surface to the haunting glow of Man-Thing’s crimson eyes. Travis Lanham’s lettering manages the story nicely, acknowledging both the modern setting of the tale and the throwback aspects of the origin and approach.
The backup tale, titled “Put a Ring On It” is also written by Stine (from his “Chamber of Chills”) and features a tale of greed gone wrong. Man-Thing isn’t present in this four-pager, but the atmosphere is creepy and chilling. Daniel Johnson draws a shadowy encounter, and colorist Mat Lopes uses disarmingly saturated tones that make the tale seem brighter than the darkness that is present.
Man-Thing #1 is a solid offering from a strong creative team. This comic is a fine introduction for new readers and a good reminder for returning muck monster fans. It stands equally in creepiness, campiness, and classic, giving readers a lot to look forward to in upcoming issues.
The Verdict: 10/10