Savage Tales #1 (Man-Thing)
Issue(s): Savage Tales #1 (Man-Thing story only)
Ted Sallis, seen here competing for the title of Marvel's Hairiest Non-Mutated Protagonist...
...is a scientist who is feeling guilty about developing chemicals for the war effort. But he's currently in a swamp developing a serum that "would change an ordinary soldier into an indestructible warrior".
But when his girlfriend, Ellen Brandt, turns out to be less interested in him and more interested in selling his formula...
...he injects the only surviving version of it into himself.
He then crashes into the swamp, and the combination of the serum and the swamp's chemicals turns him into "a grotesque Man-Thing".
As the Man-Thing, Ted Sallis' consciousness is already fading, and it's only a coincidence that he stumbles upon the people who were pursuing him. Since this magazine is free of Code restrictions, Ellen is put into some really cheesecake poses.
The Man-Thing's touch burns Ellen's face, although we're not explicitly told it's due to her fear.
Most of this story is actually told in flashback, after an opening showing the Man-Thing battling an alligator.
Marvel claims (see the response on the lettercol to Man-Thing #3) that the Man-Thing was intended as a continuing feature from the start, and i guess that's borne out by the fact that the title of the issue is "The origin of...". But there's nothing in this story that suggests that it takes place in the Marvel Universe, as opposed to just a generic monster story, ongoing or otherwise. But the Man-Thing's second appearance will integrate him very firmly into the MU, even revealing that Ellen Brandt was an agent of AIM.
The Essential Man-Thing reprint only includes the Man-Thing story from this issue, but i did also cover the Femizon story on my main blog. The magazine also included a Conan story adapted from Robert E. Howard's "The Frost Giant's Daughter", a Ka-Zar story (which will be re-purposed for Astonishing Tales #14), and a story called Black Brother written by Denny O'Neil under the amazing pseudonym "Sergius O'Shaughnessy", which (the pseudonym, not the story) was apparently taken from Norman Mailer's novel "Deer Park".
This series was cancelled after this issue, and then revived in 1973. Per a quote from Roy Thomas in Alter Ego #81 (found on Wikipedia):
..there were several things that led to Savage Tales being cancelled after that first issue. [Publisher] Martin Goodman had never really wanted to do a non-[Comics] Code comic [i.e., not bearing the Comics Code Authority's parental seal of approval, essentially required on mainstream color comics of the time], probably because he didn't want any trouble with the [Code administrator, the Comics Magazine Association of America] over it. Nor did he really want to get into magazine-format comics; and [Marvel editor-in-chief] Stan [Lee] really did. So Goodman looked for an excuse to cancel it.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Man-Thing vol. 1
What's interesting is that Ellen is Sallis's girlfriend in the original story but in later stories, she's his wife.
Posted by: Michael | February 24, 2013 5:30 PM
Maybe it's Code related?
Their relationship in this story isn't explicitly stated but her criminal partners refer to her as "Miss Brandt".
Posted by: fnord12 | February 24, 2013 5:49 PM
Before this was published, magazines put out by Marvel's sister imprint Magazine Management--called "men's sweat mags"--had a reputation among rather prudish competitors(namely DC) as basically pornography. When this came out, that judgment was slapped on this book instantly(The "rated M" blurb on the cover didn't help) and distribution was crippled; it didn't get distributed in Canada at all. Sales were therefore terrible and the intended #2 was cancelled. The 2nd Conan story was printed(poorly and censored) in the color Conan book and(uncensored)in the later revived Savage Tales, the 2nd Ka-Zar story was (I think) printed in Astonishing Tales(censored) and later in the revival, the 2nd Man-Thing story by Neal Adams was cut up and printed in Ka-Zar in Astonishing Tales(the original unedited version has never been printed), and there apparently were no 2nd episodes of Black Brother or the Femizons. John Buscema's cover for #2 was used on the revival #2. Black Brother was announced in Marvelmania as something like "East African Exile", and it's the only story here that never got reprinted. Denny O'Neil used the "Sergius" pen name at Charlton in the mid-60's.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 24, 2013 6:07 PM
Thanks (as always) for the additional info. I've also added a quote from Roy Thomas regarding the book's cancellation, and confirmed that the Ka-Zar story was reprinted in Astonishing Tales #14, which i'll be covering soon.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 24, 2013 6:55 PM
Is it my eyes or is there something funny about "Sasquatch" Sallis's feet in that first scan? That right foot especially. It's like he was sketched wearing pajamas before they decided on, er, a more natural covering.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 24, 2013 7:20 PM
He's wearing a slipper on the right foot; the other is by his left foot.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 24, 2013 7:28 PM
Savage Tales #1 was sold in Canada. I bought Savage Tales #1 off of the newsstand in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada, in 1971. My eye just happen to catch a glimpse of the cover, as it was away from the comics and buried among the magazines.
I would agree that the"M" rating did it no favours. My 13 year-old self felt a bit illicit purchasing the issue.
Posted by: rodan57 | May 20, 2013 4:38 PM
Nothing in this story that suggests that it takes place in the Marvel Universe? I respectfully disagree. Super-Soldier Serum is a pretty big clue. :)
Posted by: Sid | December 2, 2014 6:49 PM
According to Alter Ego #131, Roy plotted the story and Gerry did the dialogue.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 11, 2015 10:52 AM
Not only does this issue feature the first Man-Thing appearance, in addition it features Ol' Carrot Nose's first turn as the Marvel Universe's undisputed gator-rasslin' champion. Still surprised R.L. Stine coluldn't have thrown in a gator fight for old time's sake in his recent Manny revamp. Anyway, I can't help but agree with fnord that Wolverine himself would be envious of Sallis' hirsute appearance!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | December 24, 2017 9:18 PM
Comments are now closed.
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