The legendary horror author jumps into comics!

Every day this month, a new supernatural character or story from the Marvel Universe gets a spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!

For famed horror author R.L. Stine, writing MAN-THING earlier this year marked his first foray into the medium of comics.

He outlined how it fulfilled a dream—in the intro for the MAN-THING collection, Stine remembered being a child, gathering with his friends and their stacks of comics to voraciously read them all. He noted, “Back then, I never dreamed I would get a chance to write a comic book series. So the MAN-THING series has been a dream come true for me. Taking that massive garbage heap of a character and making him come alive was a wonderful challenge for me.”

Man-Thing (2017) #1

Man-Thing (2017) #1

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The five issue series began with Man-Thing lumbering around Hollywood, trying to maintain an acting career, while recalling his origin story (by this point in time, the swamp-dweller had evolved from the mindless creature seen in earlier appearances to a thinking, speaking individual).

Though, when a mysterious other Man-Thing showed up, the two tussled before morphing into one being and returning to the swamp once again! No longer able to speak, but still possessing the power of thought, he came across an ex-girlfriend of his—from his days as a human.

The woman, Lily-Ann Millard, almost immediately got snatched up by a huge snake and taken away. In an effort to find her—and also to figure out what strange force plagued the swamp—he sought the reality-guarding Oldfather. In his search, however, he found that the Oldfather went missing…and the door to the Nexus of All Realities stood propped open!

Man-Thing (2017) #2

Man-Thing (2017) #2

  • Published: March 29, 2017
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 02, 2017
  • Rating: Rated T+
  • Penciler: German Peralta
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Plodding onward, Man-Thing soon found himself captured by a being named Queen Irena, who transported the protagonist to an arena where he had to fight for Oldfather’s life. When The Man-Thing returned to his human form as Ted Sallis, his opponent chose to take his own life instead of killing a weakling. Irena had Ted tossed in jail where he then reunited with Lily-Ann.

After a few more twists and turns—including a change back into his Man-Thing body—our hero finally got his hands and fiery stare on Queen Irena. Needless to say, she didn’t stand a chance. Then, finally reunited with Oldfather, the duo faced The Yellow Arrow before escaping through the door to the Nexus of All Realities again.

Man-Thing (2017) #3

Man-Thing (2017) #3

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Fright Fact

In addition to the swampy main story, each issue of R.L. Stine’s MAN-THING limited series also contained a short scare story in the back. Artists like Daniel Johnson, Christopher Mitten, Kate Niemczyk, Jonathan Marks Barravecchia, and Tyler Crook helped tell anthology-style bits of fun size horror, featuring a bed and breakfast for bad boyfriends, unfortunate parenting, and a monster-filled neighborhood watch!

That wraps up this year’s Spooklights! Happy Halloween—and beware for next year!

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Look back on the muck monster’s solo debut!

Every day this month, a new supernatural character or story from the Marvel Universe gets a spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!

Having emerged from the swamp for the first time in 1971’s SAVAGE TALES #1, Man-Thing starred in ADVENTURES INTO FEAR from #10#19 before earning his first solo series in 1974.

MAN-THING, written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Val Mayerik with Mike Ploog, the series’ first book continued the action of the final ADVENTURES INTO FEAR issue—which also saw the first appearance of Howard the Duck!

Man-Thing (1974) #1

Man-Thing (1974) #1

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After the mallard tripped and fell into a void, Man-Thing, Dakimh the Enchanter, Jennifer Kale, and the barbarian prince Korrek set out to restore all realities back to order. Meanwhile, The Overmaster and the pretender gods of the Congress of Realities attacked Dakimh’s home realm, Therea. There, a battle raged between The Overmaster, his minions, and Man-Thing—resulting in the universe’s salvation from annihilation.

Though the series began with a more fantastical slant, the creative team introduced more horror elements in later issues as the Man-Thing continued to protect the Nexus of All Realities. These stories played with a range of genres and characters—from bikers and corrupt businessmen to wrecking crews and even The Foolkiller, who made his first appearance in issue #3!

Issue #5 saw the ghost of a clown, who died in a swamp, encounter the Man-Thing. Though the creature could not speak or remember his lost humanity, he moved to put the clown to rest in a proper manner.

Man-Thing (1974) #5

Man-Thing (1974) #5

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Later, Ayla—a tightrope walker from the carnival that employed the clown—gave up her job to search for him in the swamp, aided by the series’ stars Richard and Ruth. When they came upon the scene of the death, Ayla called out to her friend, who appeared in his ghostly form at the edge of the bog.

In the following issue, the ghost clown took control of Ayla, Richard, and Ruth, regaling the reader of his sad life—as three mysterious, hooded figures watched and critiqued the story.

The figures turned out to be agents of Hell, Heaven, and the In-Between. They stated that the clown’s death was unnecessary and decided to punish the clown for his ill-conceived decisions. Having witnessed these events, Man-Thing stepped in and fought the creatures off—allowing the clown to rest—perhaps not in peace, but to rest nonetheless.

Fright Fact

Man-Thing might seem like the type who doesn’t play well with others, but he’s actually been a part of more teams than one might expect. In 1972, he formed the original Legion of Monsters in MARVEL PREMIERE #28. In the 1990s, he joined Franklin Richards, Howard the Duck, Arite, Leech, and Tana Nyle in GENERATION X and then in a three issue limited series called DAYDREAMERS. And most recently, in the aftermath of Siege, when Luke Cage took over the Thunderbolts, Hank Pym used Man-Thing as a team transport! And not long after that, he also joined Phil Coulson’s Howling Commandos. Not bad for a guy who spends most of his time hanging out in swamps!

Tomorrow, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Michael Lopez dig into the history of the Marvel Universe’s number one monster hunter with BLOODSTONE!

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Horror master R.L. Stine talks his time with Marvel’s swamp monster!

He’s big, he’s slimy, and he’s coming to a silver screen near you—if he doesn’t scare all the kids away first. I’m talking about Man-Thing, the disgusting swamp monster leaving trails of slime in Marvel comics since the early 1970s.

Recently, however, we find this heinous dripping pile of muck in his own limited series penned by one of the great masters of horror, R.L. Stine of “Goosebumps” fame, who felt the time right to inject some humor into the adventures of the misunderstood, reality-hopping creature

As we near the fifth and final issue of MAN-THING on June 21, Stine—a self-proclaimed man without fear—looks back on his intimidating inspirations, helping Sallis find his voice—literally—and the close connection between blood, guts, and laughs. We’re two issues away from the finale of this series. How are you gearing up for the conclusion to this MAN-THING saga?

R.L. Stine: Well, I always have to have my ending first so I had an ending in mind from the beginning. The five [issues] are all done, actually. [Issue #4], actually, is the best, I think. I think #4 is the funniest, but I got him in this mess. He’s gone after Oldfather, and so he’s in this thing with all the realities and so I love doing stuff like that because I can do anything. If you can do any reality and have reality changing all the time it’s actually very freeing, you can do all kinds of things. Should we, as the readers, be bracing for an epic “Goosebumps”-level twist that will shatter our psyches and chill us to the bone?

R.L. Stine: [Laughs] Well, you know, I tried to make the whole series funnier because he’s such a hideous character. He has to be maybe the ugliest character Marvel has, which is one of the main reasons I picked him when they give me a [list] of characters that they weren’t using and said, “Which one would you like to do?” and I happen to love swamp monsters and he was just so ugly I had to pick him. But yes, there is a major twist at the end. You know, like all “Goosebumps” books there’s a happy ending, they all have happy endings, but then after the happy ending, there’s something pretty terrible [Laughs]. I’m looking forward to it and I’m glad you brought up your affinity for swamp monsters because you’ve dealt with disgusting, dripping monstrosities in the past with “Monster Blood,” King Jellyjam, “The Blob That Ate Everyone”…

R.L. Stine: I actually did a “Goosebumps” book last year called “Here Comes The Shaggedy” and it was a swamp monster book. Well, that kind of segues into my next question, which is did Man-Thing prove to be different from the rest of these creatures and if so, how?

R.L. Stine: Well he did in that he has more of backstory and I felt the backstory was really good. And I think we recapped it in the first [issue] of mine where Ted Sallis, this brilliant scientist, is trying to keep this serum from the army so he injects himself with it and then turns himself into this creature. In the old series, he couldn’t really speak or anything, but I wanted him to be kind of funny and sarcastic about it, about how horrible he looks and he’s so eager trying to get back to human [form] so for most of it, I gave him back his powers of speech. Man-Thing, as a character, has influenced writers like Neil Gaiman in the past. Did any other properties play important roles in your writing career or have repercussions on this series?

R.L. Stine: When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the EC horror comics, Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. I was just obsessed with them and I think they were incredibly influential on what I do because, as you know, they’re horrifying, right? They’re really disgusting, horrifying things and they all have a funny twist ending, every story. That kind of stayed with me so I think they were very important to me. Also, I didn’t really know that much about Man-Thing. I had to learn so I read all the old [ones] that [writer] Steve Gerber did. I really liked those a lot and then that was very helpful to me. And other than being a disgusting swamp monster, what attributes do you think make Man-Thing a perfect subject for horror?

R.L. Stine: The fact that he’s an outsider, for one thing. There’s no way he can be accepted anywhere. In the first MAN-THING he says, “Why can’t I have a movie? Every other Marvel character has a movie.” And he tries to have a Hollywood career, but he [screen] tests so terribly because he’s so ugly and he scares the kids. And so, I think being an outsider is part of it and just being so limited in a way in what he can do. I think that’s a real challenge too.

Man-Thing #5 cover by Tyler Crook As someone who is comfortable writing within the horror genre, did anything end up scaring you when you were working on this comic?

R.L. Stine: Never. [Laughs]

R.L. Stine: It never happens. I wonder if it happens to other writers. I don’t know. There’s something missing in my brain in that horror never scares me. Any horror always makes me laugh. Seriously, the scariest Stephen King, the most disgusting, creepiest…“Pet Sematary,” for example. Those books make me laugh and I’ve never been scared by a movie. People say to me, “Oh, your book was so scary, I was up all night, I had to leave the lights on.” I’ve never had that feeling. I don’t know why, but I’ve just never had it. I think there’s a very close connection between humor and horror, there’s sort of the same visceral reaction. When you jump out at somebody and say, “BOO!” they gasp at first and then they laugh. I think it’s very closely connected. One other reason that I can never get scared from what I’m writing is I plan it all first, I do complete outlines of every book I write so I already know what’s gonna happen [Laughs], I can’t scare myself. You brought up your love of Tales from the Crypt. I love the idea of bonus back-up anthology scary stories at the end of each issue.

R.L. Stine: Those were fun for me. Originally, when [former Marvel editor] Katie Kubert called me and said, “Would you like to do something for Marvel?” and I said, “Yeah! It’s sort of a lifelong dream, I’m finally getting around to it,” and at first, I was going to do just the straight, old fashioned type horror comic with two or three stories like that. But then I thought, “Gee, it’d be a lot more fun to just play with a Marvel character too.” So I got to do both and it was terrific. That’s awesome. Where did that idea for these stories come from? It’s a very “Twilight Zone”/Rod Serling/Crypt Keeper sort of thing…

R.L. Stine: Yeah, that’s just what it was supposed to be so I say that’s what we thought first, that would be a good thing to do and then I thought, “Oh, come on! Take one of these characters and put a little story in the back.” Are there any other Marvel you’re interested in tackling?

R.L. Stine: I have to think about that one; I would love to do some of the sillier ones like Ant-Man, ones that you could have sort of a satirical view with. And any other characters you think are kind of suited for horror or scary stories?

 R.L. Stine: Well actually, they all could be. There [are] elements of horror in a lot of Marvel stuff.

Prepare to be scared with MAN-THING #4—out May 31—and the grand finale, MAN-THING #5—available June 21—both from R.L. Stine and artist German Peralta!

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As the muck monster bubbles up in a new series, crawl back to his early appearances!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

A legendary writer officially entered the House of Ideas this week with a monster of a debut. That’s right, R.L. Stine’s MAN-THING #1 just hit, so let’s jump back to the muck monster’s earliest appearances!

Manny’s very first appearance came in 1971’s SAVAGE TALES #1. That story by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Gray Morrow introduced the world to the creature formerly known as Dr. Ted Sallis who burned those who knew fear with his touch.

Len Wein and Neal Adams created a seven-page Man-Thing story that didn’t have a home after SAVAGE TALES got the axe. It was then integrated into a Ka-Zar story in 1972’s ASTONISHING TALES #12. That escapade carried over into the next issue as well and featured the two stars first getting into a tussle and then teaming up against A.I.M. agents.

Astonishing Tales (1970) #13

Astonishing Tales (1970) #13

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From there, Man-Thing transferred his tales over to ADVENTURES INTO FEAR where he anchored the book from #1019. With #11, the legendary writer Steve Gerber began his relationship with Man-Thing. That union bore glorious fruit for the creature, and also directly led to the creation of Howard the Duck who bowed in ADVENTURES INTO FEAR #19.

The feature proved popular enough to launch MAN-THING in 1974. Gerber wrote every issue of the series, joined by artists like Mike Ploog, Val Mayerik, John Buscema and others. Gerber also worked on the quarterly book GIANT-SIZE MAN-THING which racked up five huge issues along the way.

From there Man-Thing appeared in places like the first dozen issues of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS, the Evolutionary War crossover, and a second ongoing series in the late 70’s. Gerber returned to the character with INFERNAL MAN-THING, a much-delayed project with art by Kevin Nowlan, which directly references his original run on the character.

Stine’s take on the character marks a return to the stands as the headliner, but he’s never far away, especially for those who truly know fear!

Flash Forward

Though he might not seem like much of a team player, Man-Thing has actually worked with his fair share of them over the years. He appeared alongside some of his fellow beastly characters in LEGION OF MONSTERS during the 70’s and then with Franklin Richards, Artie, Leech, Tana Nile, and Howard the Duck in DAYDREAMERS. A few years back, he agreed to act as transport for the Thunderbolts when Luke Cage ran the group. Most recently he worked with S.T.A.K.E. and the LMD Dum Dum Duggan in the pages of HOWLING COMMANDOS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Will our therapist know fear?

Theodore Sallis, who requested I call him Ted, presents as—for lack of a better way to describe him—a shambling being made up entirely of plant matter and swamp muck. According to the client, he was once human and presented as such, but the combination of an experimental serum and a car accident turned him into the being he is today.

We explored this early incident at length—the fear of it, the feelings of pain and anger directed towards his wife for betraying him, the regret of his recklessness—before the client revealed he had never spoken from the time of the incident until about a week ago.

On the basis of this, this therapist evaluated the client for selective mutism. However, given Sallis’ statements, it appears the loss of speech was not psychological but rather physiological. However, that conclusion does not manage to explain the seemingly spontaneous return of speaking ability. The client, for his part, is trying not to worry about the why of it and just appreciate its return. As a scientist, however, he confesses that it has been difficult not to wonder.

This therapist, having previously observed the client in his natural habitat, shared this information with him and his observations. Sallis seemed not to recall the several hours he was under observation but did, generally, agree with the conclusions that the writer had drawn from the experience.Thunderbolts_Vol_1_154_Textless

The client, however, stated that his presenting problem stems not from the traumatic incident that forever changed him, his time since as a sort of dimensional protector, or the return of his speaking voice but rather a recent trip to Hollywood. He had found himself, suddenly, after years of resignation and acceptance, horribly sad about his presentation and feeling as though people were inherently cruel.

He described his time in the swamp as occasionally lonely but never marked by feelings of being hated or ostracized except by those who he described as, “pretty terrible to begin with.” However, in Hollywood, he found otherwise seemingly decent people to be judgmental and mean-spirited. For the first time in a long time, he became acutely aware of what he had lost and of how his current appearance separated him from the masses.

Given the depths of exploration necessary and the recent upheavals to a life that has been stable if unconventional, this writer suggested further sessions and the client agreed.

Because of my current caseload, Sallis (aka Man-Thing) has been referred to Doctors R.L. Stine, German Peralta, and Daniel Johnson. His next appointment is scheduled for March 8 and their session will be found in the file marked MAN-THING #1.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist never expected to have a mistake of nature in his office but this job always surprises.

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The acclaimed writer brings a blend of humor and horror to one of Marvel’s most unique heroes!

For years, he has ruled bookshelves everywhere. Then he expanded his empire to small screens. Most recently, he conquered the box office. Now, R.L. Stine has come to comics, back to where his love of storytelling first began.

A fan of comics from his youth, the king of the Goosebumps empire has finally teamed with Marvel to deliver scares to his fans in the pages of an all-new MAN-THING series. We talked to him about his love of muck monsters and pitch black humor, plus why he had to give up on the idea of making a life as a comic book artist and more. Just straight away, given Man-Thing’s power set and his tagline—“Whoever know fear burns at the Man-Thing’s touch”—the idea of hiring a horror writer like yourself is pretty straightforward. From your perspective, from a creative mindset, however, what is attractive about taking on a Man-Thing story?

R.L. Stine: You know I honestly couldn’t tell you why. I just have always had a thing for swamp creatures. I even did a Goosebumps just last year called “Here Comes the Shaggedy” about a really hideous swamp monster. I just think it is horror character #1; it’s your basic nightmare, of this thing rises up from the muck, this hideous thing. It’s just always appealed to me.

So when I saw Man-Thing was available to do, that they weren’t using it, I said, well, let me try it. Let me see what I can do differently with it. You have said that you’ve enjoyed comics, that you grew up with them, and you’ve touched on comics in your books, telling stories about comics and comic book characters like “The Masked Mutant”—

R.L. Stine: Yeah, that’s right. That’s one of the best ones, I think, actually. One of the best Goosebumps books. I like that one. Right, exactly. So having spent so many years reading comics and then writing about them at times, how did the experience of actually tackling comic book writing match up with years of being a fan and of imagining comic book characters?

R.L. Stine: Back then I wanted to draw them. That’s what I wanted to be: the artist. But I had no talent, had no drawing talent of any kind. If I draw now, it looks like a third grader.

I realized at a very young age—when I started to bring in my own little comic books in fourth grade and everyone would say, “You suck,” and “Those are terrible,”—I realized that I would have to write. On the subject of art, as a writer who is used to writing prose, how has the transition been to having your words appear right with the art?

R.L. Stine: I’ve always tried to be very visual. Like in my Goosebumps books. They are very simple books and everything I’ve always tried to make it so kids can always visualize the location, the setting, what is going on—you spend a lot of time describing where the characters are.

In this it was a little different. In writing MAN-THING, I kind of left a lot of that up to the artist and mainly just concentrated on telling the story and on the dialogue. It was kind of like writing a script, like writing a TV script for something, where you don’t really have to concentrate that much on describing the backgrounds.

The process is a new thing, it’s very different. It’s very strange to see all this finished art—first you see the sketches, then you see the pencils, then the inks, then it’s colored, and still there [are] no words. No words anywhere. To me that’s really bizarre.

That came as quite a surprise that the [words] come on last. Have you had a chance to see any of the artwork from German Peralta, Daniel Johnson, or Christopher Mitten on the first couple of issues?

R.L. Stine: Oh, I’ve seen a lot of it!

I love it. I love the [Tyler Crook] covers. I think just German is fabulous. He’s great with violence. They all are. They’re all real violent and I love that. [German] especially is just great with that. You said earlier you wanted to do something different with Man-Thing and right out of the gate you start that by giving him/it speech back. You’re letting him exist beyond that silent shambling creature that he’s more or less only been for years now…

R.L. Stine: Yeah, I needed to. Otherwise…Man-Thing is so…he’s so hideous. He’s just such an ugly character it is hard to take him seriously. So I thought I would add a lot of humor. That would be very hard if he couldn’t speak. So I have him getting his human abilities back. They’re coming back. And then, he’s struggling, he’s striving; he wants to be human again, of course.

He’s very sarcastic—sort of in that Marvel mode. That kind of smart ass sarcastic dialogue. I think it helps the story a lot, not having him be that mute. And one of the first things he does when he gets that power of speech is to head out to Hollywood.

R.L. Stine: Yeah. He sees all the other Marvel characters and he thinks, “If Ant-Man can have a movie, well then why can’t I?”

Then they tell him, “Your tests came back. You tested really poorly. You scared all the kids. You’re too ugly to be in the movies.”

He asks if he can take the corporate jet back to the swamp then and they say, “Sorry, Ant-Man is using it.” Besides the lack of critical reception and excitement when he gets to Hollywood, another thing that is causing stress for him is once he leaves the swamp, bad things start to happen there.

R.L. Stine: Things are all out of order. Something is very wrong when he gets back. The animals aren’t acting right, nothing is right. It’s just…chaos. What is the emotion then to come back to this almost prison and have to redouble his efforts to fix it, to save it, tying him even more tightly to it?

R.L. Stine: He’s horrified. He’s very disappointed he didn’t make it in the movies and then he’s pulled back.

But he doesn’t really have time to think about it. This woman he knew before, when he was a scientist, is kidnapped by snakes and everything is so wrong he knows he has to fix it. He has to find out why everything is going so berserk.

So he doesn’t really have time to get into his thoughts. He is still thinking, “I was so close to back to human,” that kind of thing, but he can’t stop.

And then, on top of that, he starts entering other realities. While this is not the first time you’ve adapted other people’s works or characters, you’ve built your career and reputation predominantly on your own original creations. With that in mind, how is it for you to step into an existing character’s mythology, to play with a character that has been defined for years by a collection of other writers?

R.L. Stine: I’ve actually done a lot of things like this. I did a bunch of Indiana Jones books. Yes! The Find Your Fate series.

R.L. Stine: Yeah. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure. Right, right, Find Your Fate.

So I had to do Indiana Jones and get into that world. I had to do a couple that were James Bond.

Back in the early days of my career I did a bunch of movie novelizations which is getting into another world. I did the novelization for Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs.” And I did the novelization of a Pee Wee Herman movie [“Big Top Pee Wee”].

But this was kind of interesting. I read the Steve Gerber [MAN-THING stories]. Just to find out what this was all about. I read them and thought “Ok, that’s what he did. What am I going to do that’s different?” I guess the humor element is what I’ve added. I’ve heard that part of the reason for the comedy element is drawing on the EC horror books with the black humor and the darkly ironic twist endings that you really responded to…

R.L. Stine: That’s right. The secret is—and it is really not much of a secret—is that I was always only interested in being funny. I never planned to be scary. I never planned to be a horror writer. It was all an accident. I always wanted to be funny.

I wrote about a hundred joke books for kids and I wrote a humor magazine called “Bananas” for kids for 10 years. I always thought I’d just be funny.

Then an editor said, “I need a horror novel.” I said, “Ok, I’ll do it.” She gave the title. “Go home and write a book called ‘Blind Date.’” She gave me the title and everything.

So I bought a bunch of teen horror books to see what this sort of thing was all about, went home and wrote it. And it was a #1 best seller! So I thought, wait a minute, forget the funny stuff. So I’ve been scary ever since. When I was in my teens, I worked in a bookstore and I can remember repeatedly having to shelve “Blind Date” because it was one of those books that always sold and we’d always reorder. I can remember that cover distinctly.

R.L. Stine: I loved the 90’s! [Laughs] The 90’s were great. Given your affection for the black humor balanced against the violence, is it fair to say that MAN-THING will be defined by that tone?

R.L. Stine: Yes, yes it is. And there’s also some insult humor. [Man-Thing] gets insulted walking the streets of Burbank. People are just horrible to him. I mean, he looks like a garbage heap.

But I get serious too. There’s a lot of good violence, a lot of fighting, diving into all the worlds he has to save. Presenting Old Father who is the master of the swamp. It’s got a lot of comic book elements. This isn’t a satire. In addition to the main stories in MAN-THING, each issue has a short straight horror tale as a backup with art by the likes of Daniel Johnson and Christopher Mitten.

R.L. Stine: Well, I thought they should know it was me. So we did a four or five-page old fashioned horror comic [story] for each issue. Given that you loved that stuff as a kid, it must be a thrill to do that, even if it didn’t have the Marvel stamp on the cover.

R.L. Stine: Yeah, right. It’s fun! What would you tell the readers and life-long R.L. Stine fans considering adding this to their monthly pulls?

R.L. Stine: If they enjoy my other work, then I think they are really going to enjoy this because it is the same combination of horror and humor, just taken to an all new medium and paired with great illustrations. I think they’ll love this.

[Laughs] I think that might sound a little immodest of me. I think that’s ok. We have a pretty good history in comics of selling ourselves.

R.L. Stine: [Laughs] Alright then. There you go.

Look for R.L. Stine’s MAN-THING beginning in March of 2017!

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Peter David's epic run continues as we tour the Hulk's incredible history!

For over 50 years, the Incredible Hulk has been smashing his way through the Marvel Universe and into the hearts of fans. Whether you’ve discovered the tale of Bruce Banner and his other self through comics, TV, or film, get the whole story here…

Incredible Hulk (1962) #425

Incredible Hulk (1962) #425

  • Published: January 10, 1995
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 26, 2014
  • Cover Artist: Liam Sharp
What is Marvel Unlimited?

When the Eternal Knight assailed the Mount in INCREDIBLE HULK #425, the Hulk transformed into the Savage Banner when Pantheon member Achilles accidentally shot Betty during a fight with Ulysses. Achilles and Agamemnon both died during the attack, forcing the Knights to end their siege.

Doc Samson tried to treat the Savage Banner in INCREDIBLE HULK #426, but when Betty agreed to live and not ascend to Heaven, she and Bruce escaped to run away together, leaving a grieving Pantheon determined to hunt the Hulk down. Six months later, Betty and the Hulk resurfaced in a small town in Florida with new lives in INCREDIBLE HULK #427. Unfortunately, a mystery surrounding disappearing children arose, prompting the Hulk to search for them in the swamps. The path led to a deranged killer in INCREDIBLE HULK #428, as well as an encounter with the empathy-eating Man-Thing.

The town’s Police Chief Largo grew more suspicious of Betty’s “husband” in INCREDIBLE HULK #429 and when the death of a local girl during an anti-abortion rally brought the ire of the Hulk, the chief clashed directly with the green genius. The girl’s father, Hulk’s old foe Speedfreek, also ran afoul of the Jade Giant, dealing him a serious slash across the abdomen in INCREDIBLE HULK #430.

Incredible Hulk (1962) #431

Incredible Hulk (1962) #431

  • Published: July 10, 1995
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: June 02, 2014
  • Cover Artist: Liam Sharp
What is Marvel Unlimited?

When the Abomination turned up living with homeless people in the sewers of New York in INCREDIBLE HULK #431, the Hulk arrived to investigate and throw down with his former foe in INCREDIBLE HULK #432. Later, the Hulk agreed to travel to the Norse underworld of Hel in THOR #488 to retrieve the thunder god, but instead he entered into a battle with him in THOR #489 that almost leveled Hela’s dark kingdom.

Back on Earth, the Hulk intervened in a disagreement between the Punisher and S.H.I.E.L.D. in INCREDIBLE HULK #433, and afterward attended the funeral of presumed-dead Nick Fury in INCREDIBLE HULK #434. The strangeness continued in INCREDIBLE HULK #435 when the green giant found himself on the opposing baseball team to that of the super villain Rhino.

The U.S. Army found Betty and Bruce’s Florida home in INCREDIBLE HULK #436 and took Betty hostage to lure her “husband” into a trap. The Savage Banner appeared once more and fell easily into said trap, unaware of the onrushing menace of new foe Omnibus…

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Kevin Nowlan illustrates Steve Gerber's final story starring one of his most beloved characters!

Every day this month a new supernatural character or story from the Marvel Universe gets the spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!

Steve Gerber did not create Man-Thing, but his name rings practically synonymous with the character whose stories he came to pen. Gerber debuted on the character with 1972’s ADVENTURE INTO FEAR #11 which eventually carried over to a mid-70’s solos series, all 22 issues of which he wrote.

Years later, after some time away from Marvel, Gerber returned and set up a new story that would actually refer back to an early Man-Thing tale called “Song-Cry of the Living Dead Man.” The follow-up, “The Screenplay of the Living Dead Man,” picks up with writer Brian Lazarus as he tries to figure out his increasingly strange life, which now includes a talking cartoon tree. 

The original idea, as reported by editor Ralph Macchio in the opening letter of the first issue, intended for Kevin Nowlan to paint what would be about a 40-pager, but the whole grew too unwieldy and landed on the shelf. After Gerber passed away in 2008, Nowlan finished the project and it came out in 2012 as a three-issue series that also came with reprints of MAN-THING #11 and the character’s first appearance in the black and white SAVAGE TALES #1.

Infernal Man-Thing (2010) #1

Infernal Man-Thing (2010) #1

  • Published: July 04, 2012
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 08, 2013
  • Writer: Steve Gerber
  • Cover Artist: Art Adams
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The final result, “Screenplay,” turned out to be an amazingly odd tale about a writer who focused on making cartoons for profit instead of sticking to his artistic endeavors. After getting the axe at work, Brian loses it and returns to the swamp where he previously encountered Man-Thing. The resulting mix of the writer’s daydreams and the real dangers facing him not only threaten Brian’s life, but also reality as an entity threatens to take over Man-Thing.

In the end, readers find themselves left not just with a gorgeously crafted story on both ends of the sequential storytelling spectrum, but also a harrowing missive on the dangers of sacrificing creativity for cash.

FRIGHT FACT: Originally created by writers Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas with input by Stan Lee, Man-Thing debuted in SAVAGE TALES #1 from 1971 which is included in INFERNAL MAN-THING #3. Drawn by legendary horror artist Gray Morrow, the story follows a scientist feeling guilty over the terrible thing he created and a group of people, including his girlfriend, stealing it from him so they can make bank. Of course, none of them can withstand the burning touch of the Man-Thing!             

Come back tomorrow for the final Halloween Spooklight on Blade!

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Frank J. Barbiere and Brent Schoonover bring back Dum Dum Dugan to lead a team of monsters on missions only they can pull off

During World War II, Sgt. Nick Fury led a top-notch, multi-national unit known as the Howling Commandos. Over the years, the moniker has been used by a variety of other groups, but one of the original members plans to bring it back—after a fashion.

This fall will launch HOWLING COMMANDOS OF SH.I.E.L.D. by writer Frank J. Barbiere and artist Brent Schoonover. The new group includes monsters, aliens and a few other familiar faces all lead by Dum Dum Dugan. Or rather, the highly advanced Life Model Decoy robot who realized he’d been tricked into thinking himself human by Fury after the real Dugan perished in 1966.

Dugan must put aside some of his fears about being a mechanical monster in order to focus on his new mission of leading the S.H.I.E.L.D. group known as S.T.A.K.E.: Supernatural Threat Analysis and Kill Experts. Training this new batch of agents, which includes Man-Thing and Hit Monkey, will keep him more than busy as they protect the Marvel Universe from some of its darker, more mysterious corners.

We spoke to with Barbiere and Schoonover about the full line-up, Dum Dum’s mental status and the overall tone of the series. To start things off, can you talk about the tone of the series when it comes to story and visuals? This team sounds like its dealing with some pretty dark stuff.

Frank J. Barbiere: First and foremost, this is an action book! We jump right in on page one with the new Commandos in a crazy scenario, and build it out from there. Clearly we’ll be infusing many genres and elements, such as horror, mystery and even a little sci-fi, but for me it all comes down to writing strong characters; even with the fun and the action, it’s all meaningless if the characters don’t shine through. We’ve got a hell of a cast and I look forward to rising to the challenge of making our readers care about them! And of course, Brent’s awesome art does most of the heavy lifting for me. We’re also not afraid to throw in some humor. These characters have a ton of charm and while the book can be “dark,” it’s not totally self-serious.

Brent Schoonover: On my end it’s kind of all over the place visually. We have nine Commandos here: a 50’s monster, 70’s swamp creature, 60’s war hero. My art influences come from all of these eras so I am trying to make Orrgo feel like a Kirby drawing. I want Dum Dum to feel like he jumped out of the pages of a SGT. FURY & THE HOWLING COMMANDOS comic from the 60s and was thrust into present day ready to kick butt. And I want Teen Abomination to come across as an actual young kid from today. It’s a fun challenge. You’ve mentioned a few already, but can you give us a brief rundown of the Commandos who will be showing up as the series kicks off?

Brent Schoonover: Orrgo: 50’s Kirby monster. So fun to draw.

Man-Thing: Always wanted to draw a swamp monster comic.

Hit Monkey: Easily one of the crazies characters ever.

Vampire by Night: Strong female presence.

Manphibian: More cool 70’s Marvel monsters.

Zombie Jasper Sitwell: Kind of the biggest unknown in the group in terms of being there.

Teen Abomination: Probably the character I am enjoying the most right now.

Dum Dum: My favorite part of drawing him is when he’s a little battle damaged and we see bits of the exoskeleton underneath.

Warwolf: Kind of the Snake Eyes of the group.

Frank J. Barbiere: Along with what Brent said, I have to say they are an amazing cast. We’ll be playing with some other characters—and even inventing some new ones!—but I think there is just so much potential here. Already we’re finding really great team dynamics and character dynamics. It’s hard not to have fun when you get a team of characters this unique and crazy. I look forward to readers seeing these characters grow and interact, as well as find out more about their roles within S.T.A.K.E. and S.H.I.E.L.D. and how that affects them. Their leader Dum Dum Dugan was revealed to be an advanced Life Model Decoy during Original Sin before destroying himself. Can you talk about how hes become the leader of this new team?

Frank J. Barbiere: Al Ewing actually has written an amazing story that sets up the new status quo and digs into the character of Dum Dum post-LMD reveal. I believe it’s in S.H.I.E.L.D. #9. I talked a bit with Al about the stuff we’d want to set up, but he totally nailed it and it’s a great lead-in into the new book! Clearly S.H.I.E.L.D. has value in Dum Dum being around, no matter what form he’s in, and think he can do plenty of good amongst these new Commandos—but they will be watching him!

Brent Schoonover: I think the LMDs they are making have somehow magically capturing Dum Dum’s no-quit attitude he’s always had. He sees these monster misfits as the real mission more so than the actual missions they go on; to get these kids ready to battle. And he’s going to do so or die trying. Which he will. Quite often. How is Dum Dum dealing with the fact that hes actually a robot and still “alive?” What makes him the right leader for this squad?

Frank J. Barbiere: Dum Dum is clearly still a bit shaken by his new identity, and his journey of dealing with who he is and how he fits into the world is a big part of the book. Really, this struggle with identity and being a “monster” permeates through each one of the characters and is a major theme. Dum Dum himself is obligated by a sense of duty, and he realizes the world still needs him, no matter what form he takes.

Brent Schoonover: There’s a reason he was selected. He’s as gritty and John Wayne as they come, but at the end of the day I don’t think he trusts anyone else in S.H.I.E.L.D. to do as good of a job as he can. Even if he’s frustrated that he has no say really in if he comes back from the dead so to speak. He keeps a lot inside of him. Will that come out or show itself in some capacity down the road? Time will tell. One of the fun parts of working on a S.H.I.E.L.D. book is coming up with uniforms. What can you tell us about the Howling Commandoswork clothes?

Brent Schoonover: Besides Orrgo and Man-thing, the rest are all in standard S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms for the most part. And believe me I toyed with trying to get those two in uniform as well. Each one is a little specific to their body type. Manphibian and Teen Abomination can’t wear shoes. Warwolf has cut off sleeves and pants to let the hair out. Vampire by Night has a sexy, yet multipurpose uniform. Jasper has a rotted old costume that he died in. I don’t think anyone is changing him. I’d love to just have it start falling off more and more as the series goes.

The coolest part was getting to design the S.T.A.K.E patch for the unit. I tried to play off the traditional S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem but merge it with the concept of what S.T.A.K.E. is all about. “To fight the monsters of the world…we need the monsters of the night.”

Frank J. Barbiere: He’s done a great job establishing the look of our cast! On a similar note, were you looking to tweak the out-of-uniform looks of the characters?

Brent Schoonover: Haven’t gotten to do that yet! I am hoping to draw Dum Dum in his old school stripe shirt though.

Frank J. Barbiere: We’ll get a peek into the lives of the characters off mission very soon! Speaking of missions, can you talk about what the Commandos will be going up against as the series kicks off?

Frank J. Barbiere: We’ll see the Commandos on a number of missions that will all build to something greater and a very big threat. We’ll see some old faces, new faces, and plenty of supernatural craziness! And yes, we start big with Plant Zombies. It just felt right.

Brent Schoonover: All I can say when I read the script for the first issue and we got Plant Zombies right off the bat and I just got a huge smile on face. We just go crazy right out of the gate. Issue #1 is largely dedicated to introducing the group to the reader and we plant a seed of things to come. How has the collaborative process been for you two as you develop supernatural and alien threats for this team to face?

Frank J. Barbiere: I am a huge fan of Brent’s work and it’s such a thrill to be able to collaborate on something so unique. Brent has been absolutely knocking it out of the park and I’m throwing all kinds of crazy stuff at him. He’s a great designer as well as storyteller, and I’m so lucky to be able to work with such a top notch collaborator. I’m a very collaborative writer, so when I get an opportunity to work with someone as talented as Brent I really try to take advantage of it, and I think readers will be able to see we’re having a great time!

Brent Schoonover: I’ve been a big fan of Frank’s work for a while. His work on his creator-owned series Five Ghosts really is everything I love and dig about comics. We met last year at [New York Comic-Con] and have kept in touch since. So when our editor Jon [Moisan] reached out to me on the project and told me that Frank was the writer, I knew it would be in good hands. And so far it’s been a great relationship. Frank’s been very open to me brining certain things in a panel here and there that may not have originally been there. Excited to keep it going!

Enlist with HOWLING COMMANDOS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. this fall and look for the latest All-New All-Different Marvel news on and through our social media channels!

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Prepare to meet the super team of Monster Metropolis in these preview pages by Salvador Espin!

This June, prepare to meet the strangest super team of them all as they emerge from Monster Metropolis and take Battleworld head on!

Marvel is pleased to present MRS. DEADPOOL AND THE HOWLING COMMANDOS #1, a new Secret Wars series! From writer Gerry Duggan and artist Salvador Espin comes an explosive new adventure as Deadpool’s betrothed and a monstrous legion venture across Battleworld and beyond! Monster Metropolis – an underground city buried deep below Manhattan. Brimming with monsters, creeps and spooks – the city is home to any and all things that go bump in the night. It’s ruler – Shiklah, undisputed Queen of the Monsters! In her world, she ruled over all monsters with her husband Deadpool, the Merc With a Mouth. But on Battleworld, nothing is as it once was. With her husband now deceased and her city now residing beneath an entirely new planet, Shiklah now leads a super team unlike any you’ve ever seen before!

Enter the Howling Commandos – the most monstrous team of them all! Werewolf-by-Night! Frankenstein’s Monster! The Living Mummy! Man-Thing! And Marcus the Centaur! Set loose on Battleworld, these five creatures of the night and their fearless leader are ready to enter the Secret Wars fray! Anything can happen, but one thing is for certain – Battleworld won’t know what hit it!

Sharpen those fangs and claws, True Believer – the Howling Commandos are off the leash this June! Don’t miss the debut of this deadly new super team this June in MRS. DEADPOOL AND THE HOWLING COMMANDOS #1!

Variant Cover by ADAM WARREN (APR150818),
Howling Variant by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI (APR150816)
Team Variant by NICK BRADSHAW (APR150817)
FOC – 05/18/15, On-Sale – 06/10/15

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