Marvel Comics Presents #4 (Man-Thing)
“Elements of Terror, Part 4 of 12: Rage and Design”
Writer – Steve Gerber
Art – Tom Sutton
Letters – Bill Oakley
Colors – Petra Scotese
Assistant Editor – Michael Rockwitz
Editor – Terry Kavanagh
Chief – Tom DeFalco
Welcome to this late-afternoon visit with Marvel Comics Presents. The morning sort of got away from me.
We open with a bit of a reminder of what we’ve read up to this point… and it’s all horribly purple. When we finally get with the “now”, we see that our investigative reporter, Mr. Ditillio has been picked up upon arrival in Florida… by those two goofballs from the first chapter of this feature. They push him into a car, and take him far away to “deal with him”. When we rejoin them, they’re way out in the swamp… where this whole story began. Looks like that house they were hangin’ out in has been burned down. They baddies assume that the “Demon” had something to do with it. Just as they’re about to “off” Mr. Ditillio, our mild-mannered reporter socks ’em in the face and runs away. Our “heroes” ain’t too frazzled, however, as they’re sure if the gators don’t get the guy… the Swamp Devil will.
We shift scenes to Maryland, and the home of our “Freedom, Rah Rah” strawman, Mr. Jody Choate. He’s meeting with a fella named Bressack… and he’s got a plan. It’s a plan that might get him in trouble… ya know, if he wasn’t working in the name of FREEDOM. That’s about all we get.
From here, we visit the Freedom Science Studies Institute. Hrmm, I wonder if that’s the “freedom” Choate keeps talking about. Anyhoo, they’re still experimenting on our sweaty Senatuh friend from Chapter Two… and, they’ve evidently transformed him into a super soldier. That is, until he pops.
We now rejoin Dumb and Dumber, as they’re trying to track down the Devil Woman who they believe burned down their shack. They head into a… I dunno, dilapidated mansion or something… and are told that she’s there… but, she’s not looking to be bothered.
Our men ain’t about to take no for an answer… which prompts Voodoo Mama Juju to show her face and tell them herself that she wants to be left alone. When our heroes try to press the issue… we come to learn that she actually isn’t alone… there’s a (Giant-Size?) Man-Thing in the house.
Welp, if you ever told me I’d be pining for another story featuring the Feral Man, I’d have laughed in your face. And yet, here we are!
This is… kind of a bore. A pretty weak outing, perhaps compounded by the knowledge that we know what Gerber is capable of with this character. Well, I don’t personally… but, I have heard good things. Lots of good things, in fact!
I always worry when I start seeing writers rely on strawmen… though, I am hopeful that the “freedom” that big-bad Jody Choate is talking about is that Freedom Science joint… and not just the good ol’ American jingoism that writers seem especially keen on deconstructing time and again.
The art, I will say, is still top-notch! Tom Sutton is doing all of the heavy-lifting here… and is really pulling out all the stops when it comes to the gore. Not my cuppa tea to look at, but I can’t deny that it looks pretty much exactly like it ought to. Disturbing, dark, gross… just perfect. If only he were drawing a better story…
Tomorrow: Shang-Chi, back again… Whoomp, there he is.