When the idea of Weapon Plus was introduced way back in July, it seemed like Marvel would be fleshing out the program that ended up giving Wolverine adamantium. It started with Captain America, but there was a hint for a lot more discovery via a few icons. One of those icons was Man-Thing, who gets his due this week in Weapon Plus: World War IV. Can Benjamin Percy pull off a story about a soldier abused by those in power and given abilities similar to Man-Thing? He sure aims to show us, plus Ryan Cady and David Baldeon deliver a sometimes funny and touching story about Project Brute Force.
The main story follows in the same footsteps as Weapon X and Weapon H in that there’s a soldier being abused by a system aiming to make a super-soldier. This time though, it’s in the form of Man-Thing powers, and it’s mixed in with a lot of clever ideas in a covert-ops setting. Appropriately dubbed “Man-Slaughter,” this new character packs a punch. Percy utilizes the powers of Man-Thing well here, surprising readers but also showing what a character like Swamp Thing could do when not stuck in a swamp acting all melancholy. There is a tragedy to be had in this story, but also enlightenment about who the man is under the moss. It ends well enough so that we’ll want to check in with the character later down the line. Also, props should go to Percy for sticking a few plant puns into the narrative. They add a subtle sense of humor that you’ll dig when you catch them.
Artist Georges Jeanty, inkers Wayne Faucher Marc Deering and color artist Rachelle Rosenberg capture the weirdness of this character’s powers well. I like the dreads Jeanty gives the character as well as the bark armor. He doesn’t look like Man-Thing but is more inspired by the hero, making it feel separate from the classic swamp monster. There are some excellent earthy blues and greens that set a dark and dank mood for the story.
Wrapping up the book is a story by Ryan Cady with art by David Baldeon and colors by Jesus Abrutov. If you’re familiar with Project Brute Force, you’ll know it’s a team of cyborg animals usually depicted in ridiculous and over-the-top comedy action. We get that here, but Cady makes you feel for them in a profound way. Never hurt an animal in fiction unless you want the customer to cry! In a fun double page layout, we get action and an entertaining break down of each character complete with a code name (like “Hip-Hop” for the kangaroo) and their unique abilities. Surprisingly the humor is less forward-focused, with a darker and edgier feel to the book. Baldeon and Aburtov should be given droves of credit for that as they make the action sequence dark and moody, and the characters have a realistic look and edge that makes them fewer cartoons and more We3 in its depiction.
Overall I had a lot of fun with these two stories. Percy introduces a different kind of Man-Thing I’d like to see more of, while Cady makes me a believer in this usually silly animal-cyborg team.