Out this week is the first of a series of Man-Thing comics from writer Steve Orlando, kicking off the title character’s 50th anniversary. Courtesy of Marvel Comics, we have an advanced spoiler-free review for you, and unsurprisingly Orlando’s first foray into Marvel Comics is quite good! Drawn by Francesco Mobili with colors by GURU-eFX, this first issue offers tons of Marvel characters, ties into key Marvel history, and has an event feel.
The official preview summary gives away a lot more than the pages of art themselves, but the main crux of this story involves a new villain who “hijacked” Man-Thing’s body. There are also some unlettered pages to peruse, which shows some of the Avengers literally on fire, and some mind-bending stuff going on with Captain America. What you need to know going in is that Orlando and Mobili do not hold back and deliver in an extra-sized 38 or so pages an epic story complete with chapter breaks and a resounding sense that this story matters. That includes recent X-Men villains Hordeculture, but also the legacy of Man-Thing himself.
The book opens with the introduction of the bad guys and the follow through on their plan, but by the end, the world is terrorized, a threat is taking hold that requires Earth’s greatest heroes, and what stands in their way is a metaphysical Man-Thing and the hero within.
There’s an internalized psychology going on, but also great action. That action works thanks to Mobili’s art and GURU-eFX’s colors, along with Orlando’s great handle of the voices of each character. This may be Orlando’s first official Marvel work, but it’s as if he has been writing these characters for years.
There’s an edge of darkness to this issue that suits Man-Thing and the greater threat introduced here too. You can see it in the way Mobili casts a darker shadow, even in daylight at times, in the creases in clothing or the curves of muscles. There are a few instances of Mobili progressing story quite well too, across the Avengers and the globe. Meanwhile, there are scenes that move in well to show a character’s reaction at the moment, like with the new villain when she attacks Man-Thing, or in a key scene with Ted Sallis later on in the issue. Above all else, it’s quite clear Mobili and the scripting does a great job being economical with fights zipping across the globe, heroes facing dark moments of self-doubt, or villains reveling in their terrible acts.
This is part one of a three-part series — the final issue is out in May and involves the X-Men — and it’s a great start. Marvel has shown it does well with mini-events that run outside their tentpole events of the year, and this three-parter is no different. Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing is jam-packed with action, characters, and important moments Marvel fans shouldn’t miss. Absorbing storytelling for Marvel aficionados wrapped in an event-caliber thrill ride.
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