I was really hoping Man-Thing #2 would deliver the goods and convince me to keep reading the series. It doesn’t. R.L. Stine continues to miss the mark with this second installment, turning in a story that’s lacking strong characters, clear plot, and frankly a reason to exist.
Man-Thing #2 (Marvel Comics)
Man-Thing #2 picks up where the first issue left off, with Man-Thing fighting some kind of mirror, animalistic version of himself. Magically/mysteriously he’s teleported to the Florida Everglades where he discovers that things are not quite right in the swamp. After a run in with giant swamp animals, a former girlfriend, and some guys with guns, Man-Thing decides he needs to see someone named the Oldfather at the doorway to the Nexus of All Realities. Whatever that is.
I think I made that summary sound a bit more coherent than this issue actually is. It doesn’t really have much story per-se. It’s mostly Man-Thing discovering something is weird and reacting to it. There isn’t any kind of character arc or clear antagonist, it’s just “something is off in the swamp.” What about Hollywood? Why is Man-Thing back in Florida? Did evil Man-Thing cause him to return? Where did that evil Man-Thing come from? A lot of stuff just doesn’t make sense.
On top of story/plot confusion, I also think the thought bubbles have got to go. They either explanation we’re seeing as readers or are weak attempts at one-liners. Combined with the very verbose narration boxes, there is a ton of repetition. Even worse is the fact that the interior monologue does almost nothing to reveal more insight into Man-Thing’s character. He is concerned about succumbing to his monstrous side, but that doesn’t count for personality or character. This is a problem because it makes caring about Man-Thing really hard.
Luckily, the art is much stronger. German Peralta captures the dark griminess of the swamp pretty well, but I think Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors are probably the best part of the issue. She tints everything with a kind of brown murkiness that really enhances the atmosphere of every panel. Better yet, there are a few panels where she drops the tint, like when some gun men shoot at Man-Thing (idk why…) Rachelle fills the background with a bold, bright red. It is a nice bit of contrast and adds a great visual pop to the panel.
While the art on this book is pretty good, the story it illustrates just does not work for many reasons. It’s too bad, because like I said in the last review, I applaud the fact that a Man-Thing book exists, but existing is just not enough to justify the cover price. I think I’ll probably be skipping future installments.