Man-Thing from R.L. Stine Comic Book Review.

This graphic novel collects issues 1-5 of the series.

From Marvel Comics. Written by R.L. Stine. Art by German Peralta. Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. Letters by VC’s Travis Lanham and Joe Sabina (#4).

Short stories: All written by Stine. “Put a Ring on It” art by Daniel Johnson. Colors by Mat Lopes. “Drive the Horror Highway” art by Christopher Mitten. Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. “Like a Horror Movie” art by Kate Niemczyk. Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. “Neighborhood Watch” art by Jonathan Marks Barravecchia. Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. “The Perfect Boyfriend” art by Tyler Crook. Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg.

I didn’t realize until reading this graphic novel, but I’ve never read a Man-Thing comic before. Maybe he’s been a side or supporting character in something else. I’m familiar with his character. So I have no clue if Stine’s take is true or something different.

Either way, this was an absolute trip. Good barely PG-13 horror, lots of jokes, and perfect for that give or take in junior high age group. Which is probably why the writer of Goosebumps was chosen for this series.

When we start, Man-Thing is trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood. That alone is an inspired tale. Along the way he meets former, older, and half selves of himself. He transports back to the swamp, through different realities, and battles all manner of creature along the way. With a ton of sarcasm and pop culture references to ground the reader in some sort of reality. All along the way the plot purposely takes the unexpected road. It always makes sense, but goes against what most comics have ingrained in us. I was surprised, I was excited, I was laughing, and a couple WTF moments along the way. Again, I have no idea if this is the normal characterization of Man-Thing but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Speaking of not knowing what is normal, the art gave me a new understanding of the “thing” in Man-Thing. He is formerly human, and now humanoid. But he’s also showing parts that are mammal, reptile, insect, and vegetation. As a creature born of the swamp and muck, he embodies all that can be found within.

The series is very much a Marvel tale yet stands alone with no tethers to the greater Marvel Universe. New areas, new villains, whole new concepts are introduced within that I would love to see someone else pick up and expand upon. When many readers complain that current stories depend on too much previous knowledge, this self contained tale was almost a relaxation.

Collected at the end of the graphic novel are short horrors which appeared in the single issues. Quick couple page short story frights the level of campfire tales. A bit of Aesop’s Fables, a bit of O. Henry, a dash of Twilight Zone. These were scarier than the main Man-Thing stories but no worse than Stine’s Fear Street novels.

Well recommended fun comic book read.

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