Man-Thing #1 (Marvel Comics)
What do you get when you cross a well-known children’s horror author like Goosebumps’ R.L. Stine with a little-known character like Man-Thing? If you said “an interesting comic book”, well, I have some bad news for you. Much has been made about the famous children’s author Marvel debut, but unfortunately the German Peralta drawn Man-Thing #1 isn’t much to write home about.
Marvel’s been known for making some interesting and out there premises as of late, but this one is really a stretch. Man-Thing, newly able to speak and with access to his memories, has gone Hollywood. Yes, you read that right, Man-Thing, Marvel’s less cool version of Swamp Thing, moves to Hollywood in this issue. In fact, he’s been in Hollywood working as a creature actor for some time when we meet up with him in this issue. Unfortunately this premise, while unique, isn’t very intriguing, and it doesn’t help that Stine glosses over the fact that Man-Thing’s never been able to speak or think before.
R L Stine also uses a dated writing style for his captions in this issue, and while I’m sure it was meant to be a nod to the original Man-Thing comics of the 70’s, it just doesn’t work here. In fact, it comes off as being extremely corny, and it makes me wonder why one his editor didn’t look at it and tell him to change it. Even Man-Thing’s dialogue can be pretty head-slappingly bad, especially when he interacts with regular people on the street. Stine’s script really only works in the horror comic throwback back up story, which is miles better than the main feature.
At least the art looks pretty good. German Peralta’s style is in the same wheelhouse as Francesco Francavilla, and it works really well when Stine decides to recap Man-Thing’s origin in the middle of the issue, even though this part grinds the issue’s pacing to a halt. But when he has to draw Man-Thing walking around Hollywood Boulevard, it just looks weird and out of place.
I never intend to start these reviews to hate a comic. I think comics thrive on being diverse and having different stories, characters, and tones. But sometimes certain tones and characters just don’t mix, and Man-Thing is one of them. It’s a real shame, because I was really looking forward to R L Stine’s Marvel debut, but there’s little here to recommend. It’s hard to even think of anyone who might be a fan of the character that would want to read this series. If you’re out there, I hope you enjoyed this, and if you didn’t, well, I’m sorry.