Man-Thing #1 Review

Nothing to Fear Here, Move Along

I try not to be that guy who hates reboots because they are different from the original. Nobody is ruining my childhood just because they changed what was familiar. Man-Thing is a Marvel property and they can do anything they want with it to push more product. R.L. Stine has sold hundreds of millions of books, so why the hell not get him on board when there is money to be made. This is entertainment business after all.

This modern version of the Macabre Man-Thing is no longer the non-verbal empathic monster of the muck. Apparently, he got better. His mind and memory have returned but the former scientist Ted Sallis still looks and smells like the creature. In addition to having acquired a new smart-ass demeanor, he has also lost his job in a Hollywood movie and is worried about the future of his career.

By way of explanation as to how this departure from canon, and new turn of events, has come about, Stine provides a not so subtle exposition. The rationale of the overhaul is shown through a studio executive’s references to “likability scores,” how Man-Thing “frightens children,” and frankly that the studio can’t use him anymore because he’s “sickening.” Basically, the fun stuff has to be removed to boost sales. And don’t worry about the how and why he got from the Louisiana swamps to California, he spent everything he had, that’s all anybody needs to know.

To their credit, they do stick to the classic origin story, but from then on the resemblance to the super serum-gone-wrong trope ceases in all but the most superficial appearance.

The best part of this issue is the artwork. Peralta and Rosenberg render eloquence and emotion to a creature never meant to have either, and capture mundane office and street scenes with appropriate realism.

So far, I have to say I’m on Team Gerber, not Team Stine. I’m curious how this might pan out, so I’ll give it another shot. The issue ends abruptly with a surprising encounter and standard punch out followed by a throwaway short “weird tale.”