I recently finished reading Chris Claremont’s Man-Thing run. Claremont began writing Man-Thing when Marvel revived the book in 1979. The original series by comics writing legend Steve Gerber ended in 1975 after 22 weirdly wonderful issues. Reading these issues some 35 years later I thought Claremont had HUGE shoes to fill. Also I thought this a pretty ODD choice for Man-Thing. Although I am a fan of Claremont’s work – especially his X-Men stuff I’ve always thought of him as a Team Book kind of guy. Strangely enough as a comics fan my first exposure to Marvel’s Man-Thing was an issue of Claremont’s run that I bought new off the stands when I was about 11 years old (1979). I didn’t really discover the greatness of the Gerber originals until years later when I could afford to buy them as back issues.
The first half of the 11 issue Man-Thing volume 2 was a bit of a chore to get through as Claremont at his worst can be a little verbose and a bit “over-narrative”. He seemed to take a little while to really figure out how to write Man-Thing comics. It’s too bad the title only made it to issue 11 though as about half way through this run things started to get really good! Claremont brought back many of the Gerber created supporting characters including Dakimh the Enchanter, Thog the Nether-Spawn, Jennifer Kale & Captain Fate. Stuff genuinely started clicking and the book was fun again. These last few issues are also a great reminder at how good Claremont wrote strong female characters. Long before Joss Whedon’s Buffy or Rob Thomas’s Veronica Mars Chris Claremont was writing his own quirky yet powerful female heroes. In his Man-Thing books Claremont transformed the once spoiled rich girl Barbra Bannister into a human avatar of Death. Sounds like a villain I know but yet she still helps save the world!
I always love it when a series (TV or comics) give us a proper ending instead of just STOPPING. Marvel really delivered with the ending of this one. Claremont pulls out all the stops and ties up all the dangling plot lines and even writes himself into the story just like Steve Gerber did back in Man-Thing volume one’s last issue. Here he is drawn by Val Mayerik in issue 11’s opening page (click for larger):
He even wrote some of Marvel’s bullpen into the book. Here is Val Mayerik’s take on editors Danny Fingeroth, Jim Shooter and Louise Jones (now Simonson):
I love everything about Man-Thing volume 2’s last issue. Claremont’s run ends on a high note -great art and a fantastic story with a satisfying ending. Check out the tear in Man-Thing’s eye just below the issue number on the cover (click for larger):