By R.L. Stine, German Peralta, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Daniel Warren Johnson
You would be hard pressed to find any kid in the 90s who wasn’t a fan of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. As a kid, these were books that got you interested in reading and were possibly your introduction to horror. Now, a couple of decades later, us Goosebumps fans are getting another gift from Stine: a stint with him writing Man-Thing for Marvel. This could be a hard sell, since Man-Thing isn’t typically a character that warrants a mini-series or much notoriety at all from the mainstream audience, but with Stine’s name on the front of the comics, it should be at least be interesting.
Stay out of the Basement and Say Cheese and Die were titles that propelled the Goosebumps series to extreme popularity in the 90’s. They were easy to read books that kept you interest and ultimately left you satisfied enough to come back for the next installment. There are plenty of readers out there who have no idea who Man-Thing is, or simply consider him to be a knock off Swamp-Thing. Stime starts the issue off mid-conflict. We’re thrown into action and question how things got to be this way, but a few pages later we realize that it was all a ruse. Stine succeeds in introducing us to who Man-Thing is now and who he used to be, namely a scientist named Ted Sallis. The issue does a great job of giving us a brief flashback of how Ted became Man-Thing, while also progressing the present storyline. There is some very real commentary on the life of someone trying to make it in show business and how ruthless and heartbreaking it can be. The only nitpick one might have from the writing is some corny dialogue in a few spots, but nothing that takes you out of the issue.
The pencils this issue are handled by German Peralta with Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. Peralta does an excellent job of giving this the feel of an old school horror comic. One of the cooler things he does repeatedly in this issue is that he will have close up panels of Man-Things eyes, and have his eyes reflect what else is happening in the panel. This is used as a car sinks in a lake or a creature getting ready to attack. Peralta’s attention to detail is great in this issue as well. Aside from the reflection in Man-Thing’s eyes, we also see his reflection appear on the mug of a film director as Man-Thing enters. These little touches separate good art from great art. Peralta really sells his art and style for this book. Just as important as the pencils are the colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. Her colors perfectly illuminate or darken what German Peralta lays down on the page. A full page splash of Man-Thing emerging from a crashed car with it’s headlights is done flawlessly by Rosenberg. The art on this issue couldn’t have been handled by two better people.
There is also a backup tale illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson. His pencils are good for the short four page story, and has a nice texture to it. There is definitely a contrasting style between the two artists in this book, but they work well as separate stories.
This was an amazing debut into comics for R.L. Stine. It’s hard to make people care about a character like Man-Thing, but Stine manages to do it. With the help some wonderful art, Man-Thing #1 is an excellent book and should be read by anyone who just loves a good story.