Issue(s): Man-Thing #7, Man-Thing #8
Back in issue #2's lettercol, readers were asked to weigh in on Richard Rory and Ruth Hart. The rest of my issues come from the Essentials, so i don't know what the response was, but obviously they are still around. The same lettercol also asked if readers were interested in learning why F.A. Schist was so determined to drain the swamp to build his airport. I thought the answer to that was "to make money", and really, giving him some ulterior motivation undermines the way he was used as an archetype for satirical purposes in earlier stories. But we do indeed learn in this arc, now that the airport project is cancelled due to rising energy prices...
...that he's really looking for the fountain of youth.
Which, again, not a good motivation for Mr. Faschist. But that's the story, and of course there is such a fountain.
A settlement, mainly of conquistadors, has formed around the fountain...
...and they happen to decide to capture the Man-Thing in this same arc where Schist and Professor Slaughter go looking for the fountain.
The twist is that you don't drink the fountain water, you rub it on your body, and people who do drink it get horribly warped. This happens to Schist.
Gerber does keep the social commentary going for Schist; the quest for the fountain was as much a sales opportunity as a personal quest for him.
Those who originally discovered the fountain hope to use the Man-Thing to restore themselves. At the same time, their process starts turning the Man-Thing human again.
Professor Slaughter just kind of randomly falls off a cliff...
...and the Man-Thing kills Schist.
Since a humanoid Man-Thing is of no use to the fountain people, they wind up letting him go.
Prior to all of that, Ruth Hart leaves the cast this issue. She's decided she's not ready for a lasting relationship and she's wired her parents for bus fare back to St. Louis where she's going to try to finish school. The summer of love is over and it is time for these hippies to grow up and get a job. Only true diehards like Richard Rory remain in the swamp.
One thing that's interesting about this series is how the covers are often kind of generic. You've got Steve Gerber doing all this weird stuff in the book but its public face is a more straightforward monster magazine.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Pushing this back in publication time just a bit to fit it before the Man-Thing's appearance in Master of Kung Fu #19.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Man-Thing vol. 1
Inbound References (3): showFranklin Armstrong (F.A.) Schist, Man-Thing, Professor Slaughter, Richard Rory, Ruth Hart
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