MAN-THING #1 (1974)

Continuing exactly where Adventures Into Fear #19 left off, Man Thing, the barbarian Korrek, Howard the Duck and some construction workers find themselves fighting a large demonic incursion.  Korrek takes the slice-and-dice approach, Only to find out that these demons are like the Knights that Say Ni!

Actually, the demons are worse because their limbs can float in the air and attack you independently.  So more like Bruce Campbell’s hand in Evil Dead 2.

And why construction workers, you might ask?  Because it was development of the land outside Man-Thing’s swamp, which is the nexus of all realities, that caused this dimensional imbalance.  So Steve Gerber throws in a little anti-industrial environmentalism into the mix.

And speaking of the nexus of realities, check out this fantastic panel.  Read it carefully.  It’s so cool.

Also picking up from last issue, the wizard Dakimh had brought Jennifer Kale into his own dimension to train her as a mystic, but now he has to leave to support Man-Thing’s group on Earth.  But instead of bringing Jennifer along, he abandons her and she finds herself at the Congress of Realities, where people from all dimensions and times come to find Godhood.  While there, she is attacked and saved by Daredevil and the Black Widow…

The duo literally just swing through for two panels.  Hilarious!

After the demons are beaten back, the whole crew reunites to travel through dimensions to the source of the problem-The Overmaster.  He’s portrayed as a white man in a white suit, and he’s an obvious stand-in for God.  Overmaster’s goal is to control and harmonize all reality, which probably reflects Gerber’s views on organized religion.

Along the way, Howard the Duck dies.

Of course he’s not dead.  But we’re led to think he is.  And maybe that was the original plan-it wasn’t clear, yet, that he was going to be a cult hit.  I’ve read that Roy Thomas thought Howard was silly and stupid, and ordered that nobody use him, so it wasn’t until he resigned as Editor in Chief that they could proceed with more Howard stories.  Dunno if that’s true.

The big bad ends up being Thog, who had disguised himself as Overmaster.  Thog is a fiery, devil-looking demon who Man-Thing has fought in the past.  So, do you get it?  Satan makes himself look like God.

He’s all on fire in his devil form, so he’s defeated by literally being doused with water.  Again, hilarious.

The final joy here is when they find out who the real Gods are…

Yes, dogs.  And if you’re a dog person like me, you believe that dog is God spelled backwards for a reason.  And Gerber actually hits us in the face with that concept, at the end, in case you didn’t know it.

And yes, that’s the first picture of Man-Thing in this post, all the way at the end.  He’s not the star of his own comic.  It’s an ensemble book.

Creators: Steve Gerber and Frank Brunner

Grade: A

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