By: Jeff Parker (writer), Declan Shalvey (art), Frank Martin (colors), Albert Deschesne (letters), Rachel Pinnelas (assistant editor) & Tom Brennan & Bill Rosemann (editors)

The Story: A done-in-one story focusing on Man Thing.

What’s Good: When the “new” Thunderbolts were announced last summer, none of the members was a huge surprise except for Man-Thing.  Huh, wha?  How was that going to work?  Man-Thing isn’t really a villain who needs to work off his crimes by being a member of the Thunderbolts.  But, Jeff Parker has really made it work.  In just about every issue so far, Man-Thing has gotten involved in the action.  He doesn’t talk and doesn’t take direction. He’s just kinda there in the background, pitching in here and there without being instructed to.

But, all along the question has been: Why?  Why would Man-Thing want to work with the Thunderbolts?

This issue digs into Man-Thing’s origins and possible motivations by way of a stand-alone story that sees him whisked back to the swampy Everglades that birthed him in the first place.  By focusing on his magical nature, former life as a scientist and his relationships with sorceresses much is (kinda) explained: If the scientist is still lurking in there behind those big red eyes, wouldn’t he want to travel and learn and hang out with pretty ladies with magic based powers like Moonstone?    We even learn a little bit about the “zoo” under the raft where Man-Thing lives.

We should all be keeping an eye on Declan Shalvey who draws this issue.  I became a big fan of his on the Boom! series 28 Day Later (and have a piece of original art from the series) and he’s carried that tight linework over to his work at Marvel.  His characters are all lifelike and vital and he draws a mean giant lizard (what is it with Jeff Parker and the oversized monsters the last few months?), but he also puts in all the other little touches that sell a scene taking place in the Everglades by drawing craggy old trees with Spanish moss, boats, outboard motors, etc.  He also looks like he works really well with Frank Martin on colors.  They seem to have a good sense of who is going to shade what aspects of the art and the end product is really nice.

What’s Not So Good: There’s nothing outwardly wrong with this issue.  I do miss seeing the rest of the team as Juggernaut, Moonstone & Ghost don’t appear at all and Luke Cage, Songbird, Fixer and Mach V only appear briefly.   I’m sure we’ll see them next issue.

My only quibble with the art is that I’m not a huge fan of dot overlay and Shalvey uses a lot of it in this issue.  It’s just a person taste issue.  If used to convey shadow, I kinda prefer a crosshatch but do understand that cross-hatching takes much longer to draw.  And dot overlay is an interesting way to darken an item without changing the base color.

Conclusion: Probably a lot of readers could have used a little more background on the Man-Thing and this fun story gives us that background without resorting to boring exposition.

Grade: B

-Dean Stell

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