Marvel Comics Presents #3 (Man-Thing)
“Elements of Terror, Part 3 of 12: Ritual and Belief”
Writer – Steve Gerber
Art – Tom Sutton
Letters – Agustin Mas
Colors – Petra Scotese
Assistant Edits – Michael Rockwitz
Edits – Terry Kavanagh
Chief – Tom DeFalco
Dunno what it is… but I feel like I need to get something of a “running start” each time we have a Man-Thing feature here in Marvel Comics Presents. It’s just so daunting… and, in that sorta-kinda “try-hard” way that really makes it a chore to push through.
Let’s see what we see…
We open with a small plane arriving at the Freedom Science Studies Institute that we learned a little bit about last chapter. A gurney is rushed off the rig and rolled into a waiting ambulance. On the gurney? Well, it’s our believed-to-be-dead Senatuh Wycombe… and he don’t look all’at hot. In fact, he’s about to be injected with a shot of whatever the hell “Project: Glamour” is all about. Meanwhile, in the swamp… Man-Thing is absolutely smothered in precious narration panels. Woof. He’s trying to cope with his new lot in life. If you recall (though, I might not be the best “tour-guide” for this story), our hero “merged” with one’a dem crispy critters… and was left looking much worse (and weaker) for wear.
Now comes… well, a lot of exposition… not all of it interesting. First, we meet a reporter named Mick Ditillio who is interviewing another Senator about Wycombe’s “murder” and the nebulous “Project: Glamour”. This new Senator (Miller) doesn’t have much of a comment… but hopes Mick uses a bit of discretion when it comes to putting together tomorrow’s newspaper headline. We follow Mick home, where he’s trying to connect the dots… while his very, uh, “perky” girlfriend tries to entice him into maybe putting work aside for a bit. They must keep the apartment pretty chilly, I tell ya what.
Next, we meet Colonel Jody Choate, who is on the phone being sinister as all get-out… talking about a Demon (that he’s totally not scared of!) and everything. His wife pops her head in to check on him… and we learn that he’s doing… whatever it is he’s doing… for “freedom”. So yeah, it looks like we might be getting one’a those stories.
Back to Man-Thing. He shambles through the swamp, before coming upon a… I dunno, witch’s house? Whatever the case, she’s just about to sacrifice a puppy dog when our Muck Monster bursts in the place.
The art doesn’t really convey this… nor, unfortunately, does the story (unless I’m just completely dense), but I believe this scene wraps up with Man-Thing and Voodoo Mama Juju making a “deal”. She’ll fix him up in exchange for a “path to Hades”. Alrighty then.
Y’all remember that little run on Swamp Thing that Alan Moore had back in the long ago? Ehh, probably not… it’s kind of obscure and nobody ever talks about it. It certainly didn’t inspire a whole crop of writers to explore deconstructing superheroes or anything. Of course, I’m being facetious…
I remember the first time I read that stuff. Sure, there’s a whole lot of “heady” concepts in it… but, it never felt (to me) like it was trying to be smarter than I was. It was just a well-told story, that felt accessible and inviting, regardless of how “heady” the concepts became.
Gerber’s Man-Thing? Not so much. This is a story that is begging you to tap out. It wants you to know that it is so much smarter than you (or at least, me). The storytelling is really weird… and, at the risk of sounding like a complete jackass, “insists upon itself”. The precious and few scenes where our titular hero actually shows up are the worst of all! I think I’d have gotten more out of his scenes if they were completely “silent”!
As for the rest… ehh, government conspiracies… some “good ol’ boy” doing what he’s doing in the name of “freedom”. A reporter hot on the trail of the hoo-doo. Nothing we haven’t seen before, and presented here with the subtlety of a sledge hammer.
The art still continues to impress! Really excellent stuff here… even if, in more esoteric scenes, it’s really hard to follow.
Tomorrow: Fuhgeddabout Shang-Chi fish “references”, this story’s just called “Fish“!