Issue(s): Fear #13
I feel like last issue's more typical monster story was a detour and now we're back on track with the "real" Gerber run on Man-Thing, following up on the Kale family.
This is the story that establishes that the Man-Thing's swamp is a "crossroads of realities". Jennifer Kale's grandfather, Joshua Kale, is part of an occult group that is aware of the Man-Thing but believes him to not be a creature of science, but a creature foretold in the Tome of Zhered-Na.
This book is the one that Jennifer's brother Andy burned last issue, though, and grandpa finds out about it during his group's ceremony.
Meanwhile, Jennifer is trying to convince her boyfriend Jaxon that the events of issue #11 really happened, but not having any luck. He heads out to the swamp to play his guitar, and gets attacked and possessed by a demon.
Jennifer goes to her grandpa for help as his occult meeting is breaking up, and she gets him to help her look for Jaxon. Jaxon opens up a portal to the netherworld that the Kales get sucked through, and the Man-Thing follows.
In the demon dimension ("Hell"), the Man-Thing turns back into Ted Sallis. However, he recognizes Thog from the previous encounter, suggesting that the Man-Thing's brain still functions at some level.
Thog tries to tempt Sallis with a succubus in the form of Ellen Brandt, but it doesn't work.
Sallis reverts to the Man-Thing and goes on a little rampage in Hell...
...and then everyone winds up back in the swamp.
As the Man-Thing staggers off, grandpa tells Jennifer that she's got a link with the creature.
Earlier, grandpa told Jennifer and Andy that they did the right thing destroying the Tome of Zhered-Na because it "cannot be used for evil". I guess that means once it is used for it, it has to be destroyed.
Compared to the more generic story from last issue, this is the more interesting issue for me, because it deals with existing characters and has some revelations about the Man-Thing. But it's not really a satisfying story, whereas at least last issue reached a conclusion. It's potentially a build-up for future issues, but as a single-issue, the Man-Thing fights some demons in a hell dimension for reasons not clearly explained and there's all this mystical stuff getting mixed in with a horror comic.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Man-Thing vol. 1
Never having read these stories, it seems that Gerber is moving away from stories about Man-Thing and writing Jennifer Kale stories that Man-Thing happens to be in. Very little of this mystical stuff seems intrinsic to the character of Man-Thing or his origin. Seems like an easy way to transform the title from horror to a more superheroic style. Would this be a correct guess based on your readings?
Posted by: Chris | March 14, 2013 10:06 PM
That was my impression too (although i would say mystical/occult or maybe fantasy rather than superheroic). But then when i read issue #15, it all got suddenly wrapped up with Jennifer Kale's link to the Man-Thing severed, and then #16 goes in a social commentary direction.
It's always been my impression that this book lurches unevenly in random directions, and a lot of that is just Gerber being Gerber, but when you have a protagonist with no mouth and no brain, it's understandable to want to make the stories about someone else.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 15, 2013 7:52 AM
Weirdly, Val Mayerik is one of the few comic book artists who absolutely refuses to be interviewed(as far as I know).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 16, 2013 5:26 PM
Joshua Kale looks like the present Stan Lee.
Posted by: Giovanni Amateis | June 23, 2016 11:56 AM
The Nexus of All Realities never lives up to its potential as a story-telling device, mostly because it's so difficult to come up with a reason for dragging characters down to the Everglades. It does get used in the Heroes Reborn storyline, and Marvel Zombies 3, but that's about it outside of Man-Thing. There's another Nexus (called the Energy Matrix in Excalibur 45) in England, which is why all the various Captain Britains are protectors of the Omniverse. And Havoc will later turn out to be a personal Nexus, somehow, in the Mutant X series. But since then, in Hickman's FF and Slott's Spider-Verse, crossing realities has just been a matter of whipping up some sort of bridge or gate.
Posted by: Andrew | September 13, 2016 7:49 AM
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