Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Don't FEAR The Ferry Man-Thing!
- or -
Have THUNDERBOLT - Will Travel.


Marvel's THUNDERBOLTS has long been a dynamic comic with a slightly different angle than most traditional super-hero fare.
It being a team comprised mostly of villains:

  • Those trying to dupe the world into thinking that they are doing the work of heroes in order to reap rewards and further their own evil desires.

  • Those who were villains, but are now seeking redemption.

In this latest incarnation, written by Jeff Parker, the Thunderbolts meld both types of teams into one: villains who are incarcerated and are being forced to do the work of heroes as a part of their sentencing.

As I mentioned a few months back [HERE] Marvel has been, for the past year or so, prepping the MAN-THING for bigger things

Jeff Parker has set his unique vision upon the Man-Thing and has him / it stand hunch side by side with heroes and (former?) villains in this new incarnation of the ragtag team of misfits, outcasts and ne'er-do-well's.

issue 144 cover by Marko Djurdjevic

So, how does Man-Thing fit in with a group led by Luke Cage that consists of:
Juggernaut, Ghost, Moonstone, Songbird, and Crossbones?

Only in the most awesome way possible:

Your cabbie's name is MANNY.


Man-Thing is being used as the team's mode of TRANSPORT!

Utilizing an ability that has not been seen much since the 1997 HEROES RETURN era, Man-Thing is able to tap directly into the Nexus of All Realities in order to summon mystical gateways between one place and any other - seemingly anywhere, since the Nexus bridges time, space and realities.

The first instance of this ability being shown so overtly was back in GENERATION X # 25 (which led directly to DAYDREAMERS 3-part mini-series and then the HEROES REBORN: The RETURN 4-part miniseries).

Written by Scott Lobdell with art by Chris Bachalo, I wonder whose idea it was to have Man-Thing be able to teleport in that manner? Was it Lobdell or possibly J.M. DeMatteis, who was the writer of the DAYDREAMERS mini which this issue set up?

Either way, it answered a common problem of having the Man-Thing get around from Point-A to Point-B without having to fall into garbage trucks or be captured and transported by mercenary groups.

As long as he could return to the swamps that empowered him with vitality, Man-Thing now had a much broader range of activity than just the Florida Everglades and surrounding environs.

Now, I hear you asking;
"But the Man-Thing isn't a criminal! Why is he on a team of convicts?"

Ah! Excellent question. You're paying attention.
As a part of the dubious "Registration Act" that set the whole Marvel "CIVIL WAR" into being, any super-powered entity who did not register with the US government's Initiative Program (ostensibly as a Weapon of Mass Destruction) was subject to arrest and imprisonment.

Believe it or not, the Initiative was sent to get the Man-Thing to register (which as a near mindless monster wasn't likely to happen).

This, as I mentioned in a previous post on the Man-Thing [once again - HERE] was back in Marvel Comics Presents v2 # 12.

MCP v2 # 12
Jai Nitz (writer), Ben Stenbeck (artist)

which was then followed-up in Dark Avengers #10, where Ares and the other Dark Avengers captured Man-Thing for Norman Osborn and held him/it as a prisoner.

written by Brian Bendis, art by Mike Deodato

So, that brings us up to speed. Right?


You're now wondering that if Man-Thing needs to be in contact with the swamp in order to survive, just how did he live while in Government captivity?

Well... luckily, with the ouster of Norman Osborn at the end of the "DARK REIGN" and subsequent "SIEGE", kinder and gentler souls were put in charge of things (and Man-Things).

Hank "Ant-Man/ Giant-Man/ Goliath/ YellowJacket/ Wasp" Pym (aka the "Scientist Supreme") saw fit to do what he could to make good use of the misshapen muck monster - one who could theoretically be seen as an otherwise life-threatening hazard, and also give him/it a small piece of "home".

Wait for it...

Oh, how AWESOME is that?

I almost died when I saw how beautifully artist Kevin Walker and colorist Frank Martin bring a life, energy and "personality" to the Man-Thing!
Still, I do hope that writer Jeff Parker avoids bestowing much cognitive thought to Manny (as he did in the X-Men First Class series - as I wrote about [HERE]).

Pym suggests that Man-Thing might have some cognizance... but it is different from ours, so that might be Parker's way out, thus allowing him to bestow some more presence-of-mind to Manny than his usual empathic nature and garbled, quickly-forgotten thoughts and remembrances.

Only time will tell.

While being the living protector and guardian of the Nexus of All Realities is no small job description, breathing some new life and purpose into Man-Thing is a fantastic thing to THIS muck-head fan.

Still, I take some issue with the belief that the government would even be able to destroy the Man-Thing if they wanted to.

The reasoning that Man-Thing is in prison also because he has been linked to several deaths, is an interesting one. Almost like placing a dangerous animal in a zoo after they mauled a hiker or something, it is "humane" treatment and serves to give extra purpose to a life that might otherwise be sacrificed in the name of "justice".

But, utilizing the Man-Thing as "the Quinjet" is just plain nifty, and one reason why comics are so damn cool.
Luke Cage is right, as "Scientist Supreme", Hank Pym doesn't think anywhere NEAR the box.

Awww.... they're friends now.
I absolutely LOVE the deep, penetrating, backlit eye-ball glowing effect by Walker and Martin.
It masks any possible "thoughts" than might be going on inside Man-Things "mind", all the while imbuing a sense of danger and extra-sensory-perception to the near-mindless muck-heap.

But that was only the FIRST introductory issue (# 144). The next issue (#145) sees the "team" on its first mission.

issue 145 cover by Marko Djurdjevic

Before the mission gets started the entire team heads down to Man-Thing's sanctuary to catch a ride.
Oh, creative team, I you so much.

It is truly fabulous that Man-Thing creeps out even the toughest, most hardened criminal.
(But since "Whatever knows fear BURNS at the touch of the Man-Thing", I sense a LOT of "burning" to be going on in future issues. Yay!)

Pym's interface allows for a smooth Manny-powered transport.

The art team of Walker and Martin make the trip complete with a nice visual mix of the mystical (glowing red swirlies) with the technological (Star Trek "transporter"-like fade-out).

Keeping him in character, Jeff Parker shows that with nothing triggering his empathic alarms, Man-Thing is a neutral force in the ensuing battle with escaping trolls (much to Songbird's dismay).

Don't blame the Man-Thing. He's a lover not a fighter.

With Man-Thing on board for the foreseeable future (at least confirmed through issues 148 - 149 which will be a "Shadowland" crossover), and with an excellent creative team, THUNDERBOLTS, like a fine cream, has risen to the very TOP of the heap.

It is the new "destination" comic that I have to read first - and Man-Thing is the one collecting my fare.

"Tamam Shud!"


This review post was originally written (75% of it anyway) well over a month ago, but not wrapped up until now. As many readers know, I'm in the middle of a relocation, and I've fallen waaay behind on my intended [and sometimes already-in-progress] posts. I apologize for the delays. Please stick with me.
This blog will continue with what time I can spare.

Thank you.


Sean Aaron said...

I, like you, was a fan of the old Man-Thing books and had a complete run before I divested myself of all my "floppies" post-university. I have yet to acquire the Essentials volumes of it (or those of the Defenders - which I also had a complete run of), but your enthusiasm is infectious.

The Thunderbolts concept is interesting and though I don't care much for recent Marvel stuff having a team led by one of my faves from the 70s, Luke Cage and including Man-Thing will definitely make me want to check out any trades of this current run, so be sure to let us know when that happens and if the whole arc is worthwhile.

Mike said...

great thoughts. as i've said on here before, i'm a man-thing collector (still a newbie, relatively) and thought #144 was so friggin' cool! very excited to see some current stuff with our favorite muck man.

Post a Comment