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Posts Tagged ‘Man-Thing

Today’s post gives me the opportunity to introduce a new category for Bronze Age comics I’ve called: “Love for the Bronzer”.

You may not realize this, but Dr. Strange and the Man-Thing have have something in common: murderous Christians hate them.

Say What!?

I suppose in Strange’s case it makes a bit of sense. Since the Julio Claudian dynasty, paganism and Christianity have butted heads. Add a little Constantinian conversion, a bit of Julianian conservatism, and you’ve got a recipe that has left polytheism and monotheism standing on opposite sides of the Deity Dance Floor glaring one at the other for the last 2000 years. So when Marvel debuted their protagonist of polytheistic persuasion in Strange Tales #110, it was only a matter of time before Christianity took a stab at him, and in 1974 that’s exactly what it did. Enter the Silver Dagger, a knife-dipped-in-holy-water wielding ex-Cardinal who left the Church after being denied the Papacy. What was Dagger’s next move? Why, he became a sorcerer and took to killing off all practitioners of the mystic arts, of course!

And so it was that in Doctor Strange#1 this occult antagonist set his sights on Stephen Strange and the Sorcerer Supreme’s bombshell apprentice Clea. After three issues of fabulous story and gorgeous art the murderous mage was finally banished to unreality forever. Hooray!

What is a bit more – well – strange, is that exact same year the Man-Thing faced a similar foe. Man-Thing #s 3 & 4 featured the less poetically named Foolkiller as he attempted to rid the earth of fools and sinners with his Yahweh-bequeathed Purification gun. Foolkiller was a lost soul who got picked up in that hippie Christian Jesus Movement and found peace at last. Unfortunately, that peace was shattered when he walked in on his pastor getting drunk with some floozy. After being told to take life less seriously the Foolkiller went berserk, strangled the preacher, preserved his corpse in a shrine, received a laser gun from God (for some reason God armed this guy), loaded his gun and his shrine in a van and took off across America killing all the “fools” along the way. On one of his death quests, Foolkiller’s plot is foiled by the unwitting Man-Thing and from that point on Foolkiller has a score to settle.

Unfortunately for both Foolkiller and the Man-Thing, this swamp monster can’t exactly be killed. Foolkiller goes about his business of trying to get the local radio station to stop playing “blasphemous” music and is ultimately killed during a fight with Man-Thing when the Dead Preacher Shrine falls over and a large shard of glass pierces Foolkiller’s heart.

I don’t know if there is any connection between these two stories. The Jesus Movement was all over the US, and Protestants and Catholics were really going at it in Ireland around this time, but that’s all I can think might have inspired these two stories such a short time from each other. In any case I still effing love the Bronze Age of Comics and I’ve learned just how dangerous a knife dipped in holy water or a God-sent laser blaster can be, so it’s a win/win for me. It’s been a long time since anybody did a “Reviews & Booze” write up, so I’m gonna go ahead and recommend some red wine for this one.

Happy readings!

-Jonny

Oh god, another Spider-Man/Howard the Duck team-up book? Well, if that ain’t a bit of déjà vu, I dunno what is. But considering how awkward that old Steve Gerber/Darick Robertson issue was, how much better can Stuart Moore (or really anybody other than the late Gerber, for that matter) do?

The Service Organization of Philanthropic Individuals (or SOOPhI) has received the backing of Mayor J. Jonah Jameson to, uh, be super vague about whatever it is they’re out to do. Instead of explaining what their deal is, they use a brainwashed Howard the Duck and Bev Switzler to bombard the people of New York with “Jersey Shore” quotes (SOOPhi’s slogan? “It is what it is, bro”) and LOLspeak (“I can haz brainwashing?”) until they’re mindless enough to join them. Looks like it’s up to Spider-Man to swing in, deprogram everybody, and save the day.

Stuart Moore (The 99, Namor) does a surprisingly good job of writing for Howard, a task which (and I’m sure Ty Templeton can attest to) is harder to pull off than it seems. He’s really got a knack for Gerber-style dialogue and seems to embrace the same goofiness without getting completely nonsensical, a problem a lot of other writers seem to have writing for Howard. Plus, despite the fact the book is a bit of a satirization of mainstream media, Moore doesn’t outright beat you over the head with it.

The art is another story. For the first twelve pages of the story, Mark Brooks (Dark Reign: Young Avengers) does penciling and damn, the characters look fantastic. Then, in the middle of a scene, the artist suddenly changes to Ray Height (Noble Causes) and Howard spends the rest of the book looking like he’s slowly melting. Oh well.

In the back of the one-shot is a eight-page Man-Thing back-up also written by Moore with art by Joe Suitor (Marvel Apes). It’s a short story about a guy who feels that he has to take on Man-Thing to prove to his girlfriend that he’s good enough for her. While the story itself is nothing to write home about, the art is gorgeous.

Anyways, this book is much better than I’d feared. Hell, I’d go so far to say that under a creative team of Moore and Brooks, I’d be more than willing to actually pick up a Howard the Duck limited series. This book would do Gerber proud and is most definitely worth checking out.

Today I was reading through Steve Gerber’s Man-Thing # 16 and staring up at me on the first page was an advertisement so incredible I had to talk about it. Though the world of comics has always been a bizarre and ever-changing landscape a few concepts have remained intact. Among them is the idea of male wish fulfillment, more specifically: Big Muscles. I don’t think I need to back up this claim as anyone who’s even heard of superheroes knows they pack some serious guns.

With nary a thought to this I open my beloved Man-Thing book and there was an ad for Charles Atlas‘ workout program. Take a good gander at this:

If it’s hard to read, I’ve transcribed it below (or you could just click it to enlarge):

Panel 1.
Mac: Hey! Quit kicking that sand in our faces!
Grace: That man is the worst nuisance on the beach!

Panel 2.
Bully: Listen here. I’d smash your face… only you’re so skinny you might dry up and blow away.

Panel 3.
Mac: The big bully! I’ll get even some day.
Grace: Oh don’t let it bother you, little boy!

Panel 4.

Mac: Darn!!! I’m sick and tired of being a scarecrow! Charles Atlas says he can give me a real body. All right! I’ll gamble a stamp and get his free book.

Panel 5.
Mac: Boy! It didn’t take Atlas long to do this for me! What muscles! That bully won’t shove me around again!

Panel 6.
Mac: There’s that big stiff again. Showing off in front of Grace and the crowd. Well it’s my turn this time!

Panel 7.
Mac: WHAM! Now it’s your turn to dry up and blow away!
Grace: Oh, Mac! You are a real man after all!

There you have it, kiddies! Don’t like getting bullied? Gain weight, find the people you hold grudges against, and punch them in the face! I can’t think of a better message for our nation’s youth. Maybe this stuff made more sense 40 years ago.

Upon researching Charles Atlas I learned he was one of the first nationally recognized body builders in America, providing inspiration to countless muscle-men who would follow him. Quite likely if it hadn’t been for the success of ads like this California and Minnesota may have never had a robot hit-man from the future or an alien-hunting jungle commando as their respective 38th governors. What I do know is that the absurdity of Silver Age comics seems to have bled into the Real World in ways I never thought possible before now. This world is bizarre.

Happy readings,

-Jonny


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