Man-Thing

A strange, true, and wonderful story about a comic book:

When I was a boy back in the 70s, comics were still a quarter or less. I used to read and collect them until the price topped 50 cents and my mom threw out my collection. But I had two scruples until then. One was that (with the exception of Jack Kirby’s move) Marvel heroes were better than DC, because they were so much more three dimensional and had emotional depth. And second, among Marvel titles I preferred the scifi (Deathlok, Kilraven) and horror (Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf by Night, Zombie, Morbius). But my all time favorite was Man-Thing.

Looking back, I realize that what really liked was Steve Gerber who wrote Man-Thing in the 70s. I used to think Man-Thing was way cooler than DCs Swamp Thing, because his condition was even more tragic. (See rule one.) But various reboot attempts of Man-Thing were flops. Only certain writers seem to have the knack for it. Alan Moore would do as much for Swamp Thing as Steve Gerber did for his Marvel Counterpart.

These days comics are driven by great writers and have now earned new respect. Unfortunately for me, my taste in these effusively creative types has declined. There seems to be too much excessive creativity and mind candy. The stream of comic flow is just a cataract of color and sentiment driven mainly by marketing gimmicks. Great writers can hold your attention but they don’t have much to say that isn’t approved by the mass media complex.

As I was thinking about this, I was recalling yet again that it must have been much the same when I was a kid but I was too young to see. I didn’t mind having my buttons pushed back then. But I couldn’t help thinking that there were genuine exceptions.

The one I recalled with the most fondness was Steve Gerber’s Man-Thing, especially one story that stood out in particular entitled “Song-Cry of the Living Dead Man”. That was blazed on my memory as being so much superior most anything I had ever read in a comic. I certainly forget most comics I read but I remembered that one the most vividly.

I often thought that I had a weird psychic power, which can probably be best explained as a statistical cognitive illusion, of anticipating reruns. I would think of a show or an episode of a show, and as if it Deja Vu I would be somewhere watching that very episode.

So imagine my sheer delight walking into my local comic shop today after just thinking about that very story earlier. As I looked at the usual over-choice of the same old new releases, what should I see but a new MT comic “The Infernal Man-Thing” and that the writer is the late Steve Gerber. That alone justified the $3.99 purchase. But when I opened the mag at this coffee place, I was stunned to see that it was the long in preparation sequel to the SCOTLDM story. Then, third hit, it also included in color the original story. The editor wrote an introduction to the book which explains how the book was possible which I’ll let you read on your own.

You owe it to yourself especially if you’re an old school comic hound to pick this book. Thank you, Marvel, for the greatest new release in the history of time. Verily.

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