Man-Thing #1 Review

comic books:
Christian Bone

Reviewed by:
On March 8, 2017
Last modified:March 8, 2017


Though it won't be for everyone, Man-Thing #1 is an enjoyable comic book debut from R.L. Stine which brings his unique tongue-in-cheek pulp horror style to a classic Marvel character.

Man-Thing #1 Review

There is surely no better candidate to re-launch Marvel’s resident horror creature Man-Thing than R.L. Stine. If you’ve ever read or seen his Goosebumps series, you’ll know Stine has a unique brand of pulp horror mixed with knowing humour. Now, he brings that strong authorial voice to this new five-part mini-series. However, while fans of the writer will love it, some of Stine’s creative decisions might turn off longtime Marvelites.

In Man-Thing #1, the tragic creature formally known as Dr. Ted Sallis has regained his intelligence and ability to speak and has made the unlikely choice to come to Hollywood to try his hand at being a monster movie star. It’s a significant move away from the traditional depiction of the characters as a dumb – in the literal sense – beast who hides away from society in his swamp. Some fans might not like the change, then, but it’s a fun, fresh twist on the character. Plus, it helps distance the comic from what’s come before so as not to put off new readers.

In fact, Man-Thing #1 is a very inclusive comic all-round and is highly accessible for those coming in cold to the character, as there are no references to previous story arcs and Stine even includes a recap of his origin story. This is probably due to the fact that the first-time comic book writer is clearly more inspired by classic EC comics of the 1950s – e.g. Tales of the Crypt – than he is Marvel comics. The issue is filled with slightly over-descriptive captions and thought bubbles, of the kind that typified comic books of decades gone past but are now out of fashion. Again, it’s an approach that might put off some readers, but it gels with the overall arching tone of the book.

Marvel couldn’t nab Stine and not have him deliver some of his signature horror short stories, so Man-Thing #1 also features a one-and-done B-story from “R.L. Stine’s Chamber of Chills.” The author is on much surer ground with this tale of deceit, greed and cursed rings. At only four pages long, it’s a briskly-paced tale and, again, has all the hallmarks of an EC comics story or a Twilight Zone episode, complete with a predictable yet satisfying twist ending. It’s a welcome bonus feature of the comic, though it does take away from the page count of Man-Thing’s story.

Stine is ably supported in the art department on both tales. German Peralta must have had a blast drawing the hideous form of Man-Thing against the unlikely backdrop of the trendy streets of L.A and he also does an impressive job of expressing emotion through Man-Thing’s inhuman visage. There are also two monster vs. monster fight scenes which open and close the book where Peralta likewise excels. Kudos to color artist Rachelle Rosenberg, too, for her generally washed-out colours which allow the hulking dirty green form of Man-Thing, with his bright red eyes, to stand out in every panel. In the back-up story, Daniel Johnson similarly does a sterling job. His heavily-lined, almost grotesque art style perfectly fits the pulp horror of the tale.

All in all, Man-Thing #1 is too weird a comic to be for everybody, but it will definitely please those who like a good homage to classic horror comics or want a break from Marvel’s usual straight superhero fare.

Man-Thing #1 Review

Though it won't be for everyone, Man-Thing #1 is an enjoyable comic book debut from R.L. Stine which brings his unique tongue-in-cheek pulp horror style to a classic Marvel character.