Marvel Comics Presents #1-12 (Man-Thing story) (1988-1989)

Steve Gerber is clearly the best writer for Man-Thing of all time, so I was eager to read this revival of the character—who had been largely ignored for the better part of a decade.  And Tom Sutton’s art was also perfect.

As with most Gerber joints, the story is complicated: The U.S. is selling drugs and using the profits to sell weapons to Latverian rebels and to reestablish an underground super-soldier program.  The drug-runners working for the U.S. also happen to be into the occult.  So a twisted super-soldier who looks like cotton candy escapes into Man-Thing’s swamp…

 …And now Man-Thing, who felt the pain of the test subject, feels compelled to take down the Satanist Super Soldier program.

That’s basically it.  There’s international intrigue in Latveria, but Dr. Doom makes no appearances.  Captain America doesn’t get involved, even though it’s a corrupted Super Soldier program.  It’s all Man-Thing and grotesque subjects of the program causing chaos throughout a story that seems to be an attempt at referencing Oliver North and the drugs-for-arms-for-hostages scandals of the late ‘80s.

Also, as with most Gerber stories, it’s psychedelic and bizarre.

Steve Gerber’s not for everyone, but his fans are cultish—and I’m one of them.  Great story! 

Art by: Tom Sutton (#1-8, 12), Brad Joyce (#9), Don Hudson (#10-11)

1 thought on “Marvel Comics Presents #1-12 (Man-Thing story) (1988-1989)”

  1. I’m a huge Gerber fan, too, especially of his work on ‘The Defenders’ in the mid-Seventies, and I’m pretty huge on the Man-Thing, too. He strikes me as a big, ugly, muck-encrusted sweetie who just wants to help people in any way he can. What I am not a fan of is anybody who gives Uncle Sam a black eye, even in a fictitious context, which is what Gerber is guilty of in this storyarc, in re the US selling drugs for any reason, regardless of how noble. I realize that Gerber had his issues with the world in general, and Marvel Comics in particular, following his dismissal from the company due to his chronic inability to meet deadlines, ( not Marvel’s fault- that was Gerber’s failing ) and all the litigation in reference to who actually owned his “Howard the Duck” character. ( I’m like, who’d want it-???! ) But none of that is any excuse to write subversive material. ( some would go so far as to call it treasonous ) Gerber died an ignominious death in 2008 at the age of sixty in a Las Vegas hospital, all alone while awaiting a lung transplant, and that’s a damn shame for a literary titan of his magnitude, but, sometimes, one has to wonder whether he was his own worst enemy. Nevertheless, his work on ‘Man-Thing’ and ‘The Defenders’ will ensure his place in the literary firmament. Good for Gerber!


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