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December 10, 2010

Retro-Read #36 Man-Thing vol. III

Filed under: Retro-Read — Doorman @ 3:32 pm

With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Number of Issues: 8
First Issue: December 1997 ($2.99)
Last Issue: July 1998 ($2.99)
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Artist: Liam Sharp

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

The Nexus Of All Realities has been shattered and if it’s not reassembled soon, the converging realities will tear apart the very fabric of our universe (and every universe). To solve this dilemma, Dr. Strange charges Ellen Brandt-Sallis with the heavy responsibility of locating and gathering all of the Nexus shards before the end of the world! Along for the ride is her former husband, the Guardian of the Nexus Of All Realities – the Man-Thing.

On their quest to gather the Nexus shards, Ellen and the Man-Thing enter unique locales and encounter interesting beings (including Devil-Slayer, Howard the Duck, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and the Silver Surfer). But, it’s not just as easy as finding a shard and taking it with them. They quickly find that gathering the shards leads them into morally ambiguous decisions. Is saving the entire universe worth it if you have to defile someone’s religion? What if it requires destroying an entire planet full of life? Making the journey even more difficult is an ancient immortal named Mr. Termineus who actually wants the universe(s) to implode upon themselves, causing the end of everything! And to make matters worse for our protagonists, he’s kidnapped their only son, Job.

The Bad: This series was all too prematurely canceled and the final issues went unpublished.

The Good: Liam Sharp’s artwork is well-suited to the flavor of this series and, J.M. DeMatteis continues to cement his place as one of my favorite writers. He uses this story to present tough moral choices, spiritual jouneys and tales of redemption.

The Verdict: This series was the flagship title of Marvel’s ill-fated Strange Tales line of horror comics. Unfortunately, at the last minute, Marvel decided to make this line code-approved (it was originally intended to be published without consideration of the Comics Code Authority) and delayed publication of half of the first string of titles. So, this title was left without much support from Marvel and did not sell well. It was combined with the other poorly-selling title, Werewolf By Night, into the double-feature Strange Tales anthology. This series featured the stories that would have been Man-Thing vol. III #9 & 10 but it was canceled after the second issue and the concluding chapters of the story were left unpublished (although they had been written).

Aside from the sad affair of an unfinished story, this series is one of the most unique tales set within the mainstream Marvel Universe. Even though it’s constrained by the CCA, it’s certainly written for adults. Make no mistakes about it – this is no basic super hero story. DeMatteis presents age-old dilemmas and makes our heroes face them with no easy way out. I’ve now read this story twice and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it both times. Sharp’s pencils are superb and extremely fitting for this story – at times he manages to create illustrations that are both grotesque and beautiful at the same time. DeMatteis works in guest-stars in nearly every issues but they don’t feel forced at all and actually play important roles in the story. His style of writing is poetic in this title and touches on important questions and spiritual journeys. I really can’t recommend this title enough and I think you’ll enjoy the ride enough to overcome the disappointment of a story without an end.

On Ebay: Man-Thing | J.M. DeMatteis | Liam Sharp

1 Comment »

  1. […] After twelve chapters, the Man-Thing story draws to a close. While I certainly appreciate Sutton’s monstrous art and Gerber’s attempt to attach some of the story to the muck monster’s origin – in the end, there was just way too much going on that was all too loosely tied together. It didn’t quite seem like a Man-Thing story so much as it felt like a story guest-starring the Man-Thing. I much prefer J.M. DeMatteis’ take on the character. […]

    Pingback by Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #12 « Cyberspace Comics — June 10, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

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