Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Andrea Broccardo
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuña
The Man-Thing was killed, taken by surprise by a new villainess to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth. She unleashed the swamp monster’s fiery touch upon the world, only for the Avengers and other heroes to step in. Spider-Man helped convinced the man in Man-Thing to help, and now, X-Men Curse Of The Man-Thing #1 shows the X-Men step up to bat.
So, the issue starts where it left off with Magik showing up to meet Man-Thing. Later in the comic, it’s revealed she’s there because the devil he tried to summon no longer rules Limbo, and as its current ruler, Magik is the one who answers such calls. Ultimately, the threat of the stalks is almost over, the Avengers just need to get rid of people’s fear and an act of God from Thor might not be enough, for some reason.
Meanwhile, the issue reveals that the mysterious trapdoor that the Hordeculture members fell through in the previous issue is actually the Nexus of Realities and Harrower now has her sights set on advancing her human purge throughout the multiverse. Granted, she wants to do this before she’s even finished up on this Earth. Plus, she can’t get through for some reason.
The comic transitions to Magik talking to Man-Thing before it sucks her in to talk to Ted Sallis, and he’s shocked to see her. Magik gives the doctor a lot of attitude, makes light of his actions and choices that led him to becoming Man-Thing, and taunts him about taking a “shortcut” by making his original deal. At this point, I have to get into spoilers, so bear with me.
Essentially, Magik spends most of her time in this comic antagonizing Ted Sallis and pushing his buttons. Now, let me be clear, I’m not too familiar with Magik, but she really comes off as sadistic here. She’s just antagonizing Ted Sallis non-stop in this issue and really comes off as unlikable. Even her offer to end Sallis’ original deal feels like a classical “damned if you, damned if you don’t” choice most cruel and sadistic devil-figures offer in fiction.
She can end the deal and let Sallis pass on. But if he does, then Man-Thing will be truly mindless and Harrower will burn humanity from the world. It’s barely a choice, and we’re three issues into this story, so it just feels like a last-minute character test from Steve Orlando that the comic didn’t really need. Obviously, Sallis does the right thing and chooses to stay in Man-Thing.
Magik halfheartedly congratulates him and summons her own B-team of monster mutants, the Dark Riders, to help Man-Thing take on Harrower. This is as far as the X-Men team-up goes. None of the more popular X-Men show up, except for Storm with others in one page for a Quiet Council meeting on Krakoa, and thats it. Storm only shows up for 3 other small panels to help Thor make a global storm to douse the fires while Magik portals the pollen right into the Sun.
Meanwhile, Man-Thing and the Dark Riders get the jump on Harrower, who was literally just punching away at the Nexus of Realities, and her generic plant minions. The fight isn’t that spectacular or crazy, but the art is fine and each of the Dark Riders get some time in the limelight. While Man-Thing faces Harrower and sucks her inside to see Ted Sallis, this time to give her a horror show. Sallis explains the world within Man-Thing as the “Dreadscape”, which makes one’s fears come alive.
In this point, the comic gives the origin of Harrower, and it’s unremarkable. Man-Thing’s Dreadscape causes her to relive her worst memory, like a scene from a horror movie, and she starts burning from her fear and is released back into the real world. She keeps burning until she falls into the Nexus of Realities, and it seems like we’ve seen the last from her. She actually survived in fine condition, and not only that, but so did the Hordeculture members who are already heading back to their original reality.
The comic ends with a sorceress who is implied to have been called by Magik as a favor, summoning Belasco, the previous ruler of Limbo and the devil Ted Sallis made a deal with, so Man-Thing could suck him into the Dreadscape for a little revenge.
X-Men: Curse Of The Man-Thing #1 closes out this anniversary story to Marvel’s Man-Thing. The art and colors are fine, but the story is the real problem here. The Harrower is an underwhelming villainess from start to finish, and this deep dive into the man behind Man-Thing is very by the numbers and has been done better in series like Immortal Hulk. Unfortunately, the whole story just makes me want to read Swamp Thing .