THE INFERNAL MAN-THING (Marvel, 2012; Softcover)
Collects Man-Thing No. 12, The Infernal Man-Thing Nos. 1-3, and the Man-Thing origin story from Savage Tales No. 1 (cover dates May, 1971- October, 2012)
Writers: Steve Gerber and Gerry Conway (Savage Tales No. 1 only)
Artists: Gray Morrow (Savage Tales No. 1), John Buscema and Klaus Janson (Man-Thing No. 12), and Kevin Nowlan (Artist and Colorist- The Infernal Man-Thing Nos. 1-3)
Steve Gerber is a great writer who has gotten a bad rap from modern comic book fans for being supposedly pretentious and overly wordy. While the late Gerber's writing was definitely a product of its time, sharing the beliefs and convictions of baby boomer hippies everywhere, his cynicism and wit transcend those perceived limitations. Gerber seemed to put himself into these stories as the characters. Brian Lazarus is Gerber on some level.
The three-issue Infernal Man-Thing series is a sequel to 1974's Man-Thing No. 12. Brian Lazarus' life has gone on since then but not gone well. A series of unfulfilling life choices have brought him face to face again with Sibyl Mills, the girl whose path he crossed in the original story. Sibyl's life has been equally unfulfilling. This is a bleak, somewhat depressing look at two people's lives but is saved from becoming a sobfest by Gerber's witty, cynical worldview. This was finished after Gerber's death, as Nowlan was still painting it on and off over the years. Like so many stories in the original series, the Man-Thing is a set piece and utilized sparingly. There is an Omnibus hardcover and two black and white Essential phonebooks of the 1970s run available. Highly recommended reading.
The origin story from 1971 is great. I've read it numerous times over the years and it remains brilliant. I love the whole Gerry Conway/ Len Wein Man-Thing/ Swamp-Thing wink and nod. For those of you who don't know, they were roommates at the time. Gerry worked for Marvel while Len worked for DC (and later Marvel). Swamp-Thing's origin is very similar to Man-Thing's. Wein doesn't see the similarities but it would surprise me if those two weren't just taking the piss out of Marvel and DC at the time.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- This is one of the thinnest trade paperbacks that Marvel has done in a while, clocking in at around 104 pages.
Linework and Color restoration rating on Savage Tales No. 1 and Man-Thing No. 12: 4.5 out of 5. While not Marvel Masterworks level, the restoration is really good on these issues. The color palette is faithful to the original publication on the Man-Thing issue. Savage Tales was a black and white magazine.
Paper rating: 4.25 out of 5. Decent weight coated stock with a slight sheen. Looks too glossy for the '70s material.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Glued binding.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. The same nice laminated cardstock found on all Marvel softcovers.