Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Marco Failla with Minkyu Jung
Color Artist: Guru-eFX
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuña
The Man-Thing is dead! Kinda. A new villainess has struck down the powerful swamp monster and is using his powers to extinguish humanity from the face of the Earth. The Avengers rushed into action like always but found it more difficult than expected. Now their only hopes lies in the man of the Man-Thing. The Amazing Spider-Man: Curse of the Man-Thing #1 shows which hero can convince the man inside to help.
If you’re interested in this comic, series, or any of the others mentioned, simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon.
In the last issue, Ted Sallis, the man within Man-Thing, was having a deep breakdown with Captain America and revealed the serum he used wasn’t his own but someone else’s. That other person was Curt Connors aka The Lizard, who is thankfully reformed and has his Lizard transformations under genuine control. So, the Man-Thing lets Cap out who goes on to find Dr. Connors.
The comic shifts to the new, underwhelming super-villainess, the Harrower and her own monologue about the doom of humanity. But her aunt from the Hordeculture tries to stop her plot but they literally fall down a mysterious trapdoor that Harrower didn’t set. The comic provides quick instances of the Avengers trying to stop the Harrower’s assault of killer plant monsters. Meanwhile, Cap tells Dr. Connors everything and brings him the mass of Man-Thing that pulled him into its mindscape with Sallis.
Connors and Sallis get reacquainted, and Sallis reveals that he made a “deal with the Devil” to make the serum that turns him into Man-Thing work. However, Cap and Connors are attacked and the good doctor turns into The Lizard to help fight them off. From there, Spider-Man comes crashing through the roof, literally, and The Lizard tells him to go speak with Sallis.
What readers really need to know is that this comic is centered on Cap, The Lizard, and Spider-Man taking their shots to convince a sulking Ted Sallis to retake control of Man-Thing. The mileage will definitely vary on this, especially when Spider-Man gets his shot. His talk with Sallis feels like a PSA or after-school special about accepting responsibility for your actions and retaking control of your life and all that.
However, it feels sincere coming from Spider-Man. Thankfully, it’s only one page and the dialogue doesn’t feel too bloated. Eventually, Man-Thing returns and reconstitutes himself from the attacking plant monsters. From there, he vanishes and returns to where Ted Sallis made his deal with the Devil. He tries to summon the entity, whether it’s Mephisto or not, but no one shows up. Except Magik from the X-Men, for some reason.
I do have a coupe of nitpicks about this comic. First, there’s no horror. The one thing the comic synopses keep promoting is “THE HORROR OF THE MAN-THING” but there was none of that in the first part or in this one, and I don’t expect we’ll get any in the X-Men issue. If anything, it feels devoid of horror, let alone body-horror. It feels like Marvel should’ve had Al Ewing write this special, since he’s writing the Immortal Hulk and has managed to balance out grotesque horror and grand monsters with grounded human drama.
The other is that throughout the comic Ted Sallis blames himself for what happened to him, for becoming Man-Thing, and even for what’s happening now. But he never shows anger towards his ex-wife Ellen, even though she’s the one who sold him out to AIM, which forced him to take the serum to survive. The problem isn’t she left him, that makes total sense. It’s that Sallis never blames her for betraying him to AIM. If nothing else, knowing that the woman he loved betrayed him for money would’ve added an extra kick to why he’s so melancholy and resistant to help. It’s a missed opportunity for more drama, that’s all.
The Amazing Spider-Man: Curse of the Man-Thing #1 isn’t bad but it’s not great. It does its best to provide a deep dive into Ted Sallis, the man within Man-Thing, and it’s okay. It’s not that compelling, but how his personal crisis is resolved feels sincere. The art and colors are good, and the characterization of the characters is fine too. Overall, the comic is okay.