Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Francsesco Mobili
Color Artist: Guru-eFX
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuña
The Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have met many odd and fearsome beings in the Marvel Universe on Earth and beyond. Now, they meet a threat that stems from one of the most odd allies and beings they’ve ever encountered: The Man-Thing. As a new villain emerges from Avengers: Curse Of The Man-Thing #1, the Avengers step back into the odd world of Man-Thing.
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First, this comic is part one of a trilogy of comics titled “Curse Of The Man-Thing“. This mini-event, let alone this comic, has a lot going against it. One of the biggest being that it stars Man-Thing, an original Marvel creation who comes off as a poor-man’s Swamp Thing here. While the latter has grown more popular & compelling over the years with great stories in his catalog, the former has become pretty much a joke. Most stories starring Man-Thing in recent years have either used him as as a joke, cannon fodder, or talk up a big game about him then kill him in no time flat. This comic practically does the latter.
The comic, or rather this mini-event, is meant to celebrate the Man-Thing’s 50th anniversary. Honestly, Man-Thing is a character who should be getting more coverage as a cool supernatural anti-hero on par with Swamp Thing. But that honor goes to the Immortal Hulk who has occupied that role for years now thanks to his series with Al Ewing’s writing and Joe Bennet’s spectacular art. However, Steve Orlando tries to take a more introspective angle to the character. But even that falls a little short here.
From the get-go, the comic first introduces the new villainess Harrower and, my God, she is dull and generic. You’ll see her in the previews below. Her motives, goal, powers, even her design is boring. What’s even worse are her origins, which are connected to some of the worst new supervillains created in Marvel comics in the past 10 years. I’ll explain more on that in the Spoilers section.
One thing you can give to Steve Orlando is he knows how to get the story immediately going. Kudos to him on that. The inciting conflict with Man-Thing is pretty much done quickly and the Avengers take over. Some comics tend to take forever to get into the meat of their story, he doesn’t with this. On top of that, he writes the Avengers very much in character with how they’re portrayed in the main Avengers book by Jason Aaron, possibly being more heroic than even how Aaron writes them.
Not to mention, Francesco Mobili delivers on the art for this comic and knocks it out of the park for the characters, the locations, the fights, and the facial expressions. Orlando also manages to find a way to connect Captain America of all people with Man-Thing using a connection built into the titular swamp monster’s origins. However, there’s a big reveal that may or may not shock readers more familiar with Man-Thing.
Overall, Man-Thing fans might want to wait until the full trilogy is out before buying any of these books. It tries to lay the groundwork for a deeper story and setup a closer look of Man-Thing. But it’s not there yet.
So, heres the thing. Harrower is the great niece of one of the Hordeculture. If you’re not familiar, they’re essentially a bunch of evil botanist grannies introduced as new X-Men villains created by Jonathan Hickman. They’re as boring and ridiculous as I describe them. Which makes this new villain’s introduction bad already. Now, Harrower’s goal is to kill off humanity using Man-Thing’s powers then have a new species take their place in a couple billion years. Sounds pretty generic and unimaginative by Marvel Comics’ standards.
What’s worse is that even the Hordeculture say her plan is terrible. Worse, she just comes off as a bratty teenager basically going “I’ll show you!” and then disappears to enact her plan. And that’s how the comic starts. That’s not the best way to introduce a new villain readers are supposed to take as a menacing threat, especially after Marvel went out of its way to hype her up in the comic’s own synopsis.
Then, as you can tell from the previews, she proceeds to curb stomp Man-Thing in the span of 2 pages and sets her plan, and the comic’s story, in motion. The majority of this comic mini-event hinges on the presentation of this new villainess and she’s just dull. They could’ve easily replaced her with someone better, like Dr. Doom, the High Evolutionary, MODOK especially since AIM is deeply intwined with his origins. Maybe use one of Man-Thing’s old villains. Almost anybody would be better than her right now.
Avengers: Curse Of The Man-Thing #1 is pretty underwhelming, unfortunately. The new villain, Harrower, is not a great addition to Marvel in terms of her design, powers, and goal. She’s pretty generic by all accounts. The saving grace of this comic is the action, art, and writing when the Avengers are on panel. Ironically, this comic is meant to be part of a mini-event celebrating Man-Thing, but the character’s hardly in it. If anything, he’s more of a plot device than a character here. Hopefully the next two issues actually use Man-Thing and make the character more interesting.