Issue(s): Fear #14, Fear #15
Things open with a world gone crazy. Everyone everywhere is picking fights. For the Man-Thing, this means awesome swamp animal battles with a hilarious conclusion
For mere humans, it just means a lot of riots and fighting.
Joshua Kale's occult group heads into the swamp to try to cast a spell to stop the madness. The goal is to cause the Tome of Zhered-Na to return, because that will prevent the demons from invading. Kale brings his grandkids along with him, because the family that prays together stays together.
But the Man-Thing shows up during the ritual, and his presence and connection with Jennifer causes a weird reaction with the Mists of Maalock that brings them both to another dimension, prisoners of a wizard named Dakhimh the Enchanter.
Dakhimh says that the Man-Thing has to die because his very presence "threatens the demon invasion" and Jennifer's link with the Man-Thing is dangerous as well. But Dakhimh says they can have one last chance, if the Man-Thing will fight in the arena. Jennifer agrees, so Man-Thing fights a creature called Mongu.
Of course, "fight" is a bit of a strong word. Mostly the Man-Thing just stands there and lets himself get hacked, but this causes Mongu to fear him, and that results in burning. With that, Dakhimh returns Jennifer and the Man-Thing to Earth.
The riots on Earth continue to get worse, and eventually the Man-Thing himself drops after (according to Joshua Kale) an attack by invisible demons. Grandpa Kale then tells the history of the Tome of Zhered-Na. It traces its origins back to a pre-cataclysm Atlantis.
Steve Gerber had also been writing Tales of Atlantis stories in Sub-Mariner around this time detailing the rise of Kamuu and the fall of Atlantis. So here, we have the Atlantean sorceress Zhered-Na, who had a prophesy that Atlantis would sink beneath the sea. For this blasphemy she was banished from Atlantis.
Note that the Ancient Atlanteans are colored pink instead of blue here. This will continue to be true going forward; the fact that they were blue in the original Tales Of Atlantis stories is considered a mistake.
After banishment, Zhered-Na continued to have prophesies (even predicting Captain America and Spider-Man!)...
...and eventually settled at a colony of Atlantis, where she picked up some followers and the Tome was written, predicting that the Man-Thing would be the savior in the time of the demon invasion.
When Atlantis did fall, Zhered-Na was slain by those who thought she caused, rather than predicted, the disaster. But her followers spread her testament, and eventually the only remaining copy of the text came into the hands of Joshua Kale's cult.
Then Dakimh appears again to Jennifer Kale, telling her that he was actually responsible for the Man-Thing's fall, to protect him from the demons, and that now he wants Jennifer's help in restoring the Tome.
Jennifer is magicked into a costume reminiscent of Zhered-Na's, and with the Man-Thing, they go to another dimension where the Tome is kept, facing an elf, Yopp...
...and a lava demon, Sominus.
Jennifer eventually gets to the book, and just by touching it, she ends the demon invasion and gets sent back to Earth with the Man-Thing (and Sominus, but he's then quickly defeated).
With the threat over, the Tome disappears, and Jennifer's mental connection with the Man-Thing is said to be broken.
Jennifer was said a few times to be in "love" with the Man-Thing, but now she can "see him now for what he truly is. A mindless, misshapen Man-Thing. No more."
It feels like things are being wrapped up so that the Kales' story is done and the whole "crossroads" idea is over now that the Tome has been returned, but both Jennifer and especially the Nexus of All Realities are important parts of the Man-Thing's domain. I'm not a big fan of the "history lesson as story" style of plotting here, but it was interesting to see the origin of Jennifer Kale. What's weird and kind of cool is that there never really is a demon invasion in the sense that actual physical demons from Thog's dimension come to earth and rampage around. It's just the increased nastiness and riots among humans. Which is probably the point, although it's maybe more subtle than i expect from Gerber.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Man-Thing vol. 1
Inbound References (5): showAndrew Jackson Kale, Dakimh The Enchanter, Jennifer Kale, Joshua Kale, Man-Thing, Mongu
Any thoughts on the curious case of Mongu? Sources say he's not to be confused with the Soviet exoskeleton from INCREDIBLE HULK #4, way back in 1962, yet they have the same name and similar appearances and weapons.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | October 7, 2013 11:06 AM
This is really interesting. Thanks for pointing it out. Obviously someone (Gerber? Mayerik?) remembered the previous Mongu, but they can't be the same character. Maybe there's an Untold Tale where a group of Soviets wound up in this Mongu's dimension and came back with a strong impression of him that got worked into the design of their exoskeleton.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 7, 2013 1:42 PM
For that matter, Delvadia is the country from Daredevil #74-75, and will eventually be confirmed as the homeland of the Tarantula in Spider-Man. (A letters page in a later issue of Fear confirms that "Gerry Conway founded Delvadia on his typewriter.")
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 10, 2015 8:46 AM
"Mongu only pawn in game of life". Sorry, couldn't resist.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | December 25, 2017 7:27 PM
Of all of the bouts Man-Thing has had with alligators over the decades, the "gator trapped in Manny's midriff and burns" maneuver is still my favorite. Although it needs a less awkward name than the one I just presented.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | December 29, 2017 10:27 AM
"Jennifer is magicked into a costume reminiscent of Zhered-Na's".
Interesting that Dakimh apparently thinks the problem with Zhered-Na's, ahem, outfit was that it didn't reveal enough. (Zhered-Na may only have worn a pair of cans on her cans above the waist, but at least she got to wear pants; Jennifer gets a thong to go with her can-cans, and that's about it.) Dirty old Enchanter…
Posted by: Dan Spector | March 2, 2018 2:02 PM
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