Man-Thing Reading Guide

man-thing reading-guide

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Greetings, Swamp Squad! Welcome to our GIANT-SIZE Man-Thing reading guide!

After scientist Ted Sallis injected himself with a new super-soldier serum and nearly died in a car crash, he wakes up as… The Man-Thing! A mindless muck-monster, the macabre Man-Thing slumbers in a swamp in the Florida Everglades that also serves as a portal to other dimensions.

A member of countless teams, Man-Thing is an iconic supporting character across Marvel comics, but who is he himself? As we await his MCU debut in Marvel’s Werewolf by Night spooky spectacular, check out the comics below to dive into some of Marvel’s weirdest, wildest stories featuring the strangest swamp monster of them all!

Quick start:

  • Man-Thing Complete Collection Vol. 1-3
    • Savage Tales (1971) #1
    • Astonishing Tales (1970) #12-13
    • Fear (1970) #10-19
    • Man-Thing (1974) #1-22
    • Giant-Size Man-Thing (1974) #1-5
    • Monsters Unleashed (1973) #5, 8-9
    • Marvel Premiere (1972) #28
    • Incredible Hulk (1962) #197-198
    • Marvel Team-Up (1972) #68
    • Howard the Duck (1976) #22-24
  • Infernal Man-Thing (2012) #1-3
  • Man-Thing (1997) #1-8
  • Legion of Monsters: Man-Thing (2007) #1
  • Dead of Night MAX: Featuring Man-Thing (2008) #1-4
  • Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers (2006) #144-162, 176-183
  • Fear Itself: Fearsome Four (2011) #1-4
  • Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos (2015) #1-4
  • Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2015) #1, 4-6
  • Old Man Logan (2016) #14-15
  • Curse of the Man-Thing (2021)

This is a lot of issues, but we’ve got a lot of love for the big guy! Manny is a frequent guest star across the Marvel universe, and isn’t afraid of being on multiple teams at the same time! Reading his comics and trying to track continuity can be confusing, so we hope the Quick Start guide above can help you out.

If you’re ready for more, keep scrolling cause man we got a whole lotta things to read! But don’t be afraid because…

“Whatever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing!”

 

 

Man-Thing (1974)

Man-Thing debuted in the third story of Savage Tales (1971) #1 under the craftsmanship of comic icons Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Gray Morrow. But things didn’t get truly crazy until his two-part crossover with Ka-Zar the Savage in Astonishing Tales (1970) #12-13. Shortly after, Steve Gerber & Mike Ploog started their career-defining run in Adventures into Fear which eventually bled into the first solo series in 1974, one of the greatest and weirdest runs in comic history. Notably, Gerber fleshed out Man-Thing’s world with the friendship of Jennifer Kale, an extraordinarily powerful young sorcerer. Gerber’s run also established that the swamp habitat is actually a multiversal Nexus of All Realities, leading to the first appearance of Howard the Duck. Wild stuff.

The Man-Thing Omnibus has everything from Essential Man-Thing Vol. 1-2 and a bunch of extra issues in addition. Complete Collection Vol. 1-3 includes everything from Essential Vol. 1 and many other unique issues as well. All three sets are great, and each are a little different. If I had to pick one, I might choose the Complete Collection series because they come with the fantastic Infernal Man-Thing miniseries*, but feel free to get whichever one you like! You can always find the rest of issues individually (like on Marvel Unlimited). Just remember that the Essential volumes only come in black and white!

Infernal Man-Thing are the final 3 issues by Gerber. Published for the first time in 2012, this short masterpiece sadly never saw the light of day while he was alive. Nevertheless, Kevin Nowlan’s hand-painted art matches the quality of Gerber’s writing and it stands as one of the crowning achievements of Gerber’s work with the character.

  • Man-Thing Omnibus
    • Savage Tales #1; Astonishing Tales #12-13; Fear #10-19; Man-Thing (1974) #1-22; Giant-Size Man-Thing #1-5; Incredible Hulk #197-198; Marvel Team-Up #68; Marvel Two-in-One #43; Man-Thing (1979) #1-11; Doctor Strange #41; Monsters Unleashed #5, 8-9; Rampaging Hulk #7

Also collected as:

  • Man-Thing by Steve Gerber: The Complete Collection Vol. 1-3
    • Vol. 1: Savage Tales #1; Astonishing Tales #12-13; Fear #10-19; Marvel Two-in-One #1; Man-Thing (1974) #1-8; Monsters Unleashed #5
    • Vol. 2: Giant Size Man-Thing #1-5; Daredevil (1964) #113-114; Man-Thing (1974) #9-18; Monsters Unleashed #8-9
    • Vol. 3: Man-Thing (1974) #19-22; Iron Man Annual (1970) #3; Howard the Duck (1976) #22-23; Infernal Man-Thing (2012) #1-3; Rampaging Hulk (1977) #7; Web of Spider-Man Annual (1985) #4; Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #1-12

Also collected as:

  • Essential Man-Thing Vol. 1-2
    • Vol. 1: Savage Tales #1; Astonishing Tales #12-13; Adventure Into Fear #10-19; Man-Thing (1974) #1-14; Giant-Size Man-Thing #1-2; Monsters Unleashed #5, 8-9
    • Vol. 2: Man-Thing (1974) #15-22; Man-Thing (1979) #1-11; Giant-Size Man-Thing #3-5; Marvel Team-Up #68; Marvel Two-in-One #43; Doctor Strange #41
  • Savage Tales (1971) #1 [C Story]
  • Astonishing Tales (1970) #12-13
    • Extra: Astonishing Tales (1970) #15, 18
  • Fear (1970) #10-19
    • First appearance of co-star Jennifer Kale
    • First appearance of Howard the Duck
    • Aka “Adventure into Fear”
  • Man-Thing (1974) #1-22
    • Continues from Fear #19
  • Giant-Size Man-Thing (1974) #1-5
  • Monsters Unleashed (1973) #5, 8-9
  • Infernal Man-Thing (2012) #1-3
  • Marvel Premiere (1972) #28
    • First appearance of the Legion of Monsters!
  • Incredible Hulk (1962) #197-198
    • Story continues in Incredible Hulk #199 
  • Marvel Team-Up (1972) #68
    • Spider-Man team-up!
  • Howard the Duck (1976) #22-24
    • A Star Wars parody!

Extra reading:

  • Avengers (1963) #118
  • Marvel Two-in-One (1974) #1
  • Master of Kung Fu (1974) #19
  • Daredevil (1964) #113-114
    • Brief cameo in #115
  • Giant-Size Spider-Man (1974) 5
  • Iron Man Annual (1970) #3
  • Amazing Adventures (1970) #38
    • Alternate timeline projection
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #187
  • Rampaging Hulk (1977) #7 [B Story]
  • Marvel Two-in-One (1974) #42-43
    • Captain America, The Thing, & Man-Thing!
  • Micronauts (1978) #7

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Man-Thing (1979) – Man-Thing (1997)

A few years after Gerber’s goodbye, Man-Thing returned in his second solo series. While this run never reached the heights of the original series, it’s worth checking out to see what X-Men legend Chris Claremont tried to do with the character in the last couple issues.

After a backup series in Marvel Comics Presents, J.M. DeMatteis & Liam Sharp brought Man-Thing and Jennifer into the modern era with their run in 1997. Dark, psychological, psychedelic, and unrelentingly horror-based, their 8 issues featured complex character reinventions and surreal art inspired by The Sandman.

In the 90s, Manny and Jennifer also had an explosion of guest appearances. They even briefly crossed over into the Midnight Sons saga, and Jennifer started having adventures independently. You can find all of those in the Extra Reading section below.

  • Man-Thing (1979) #1-11
  • Doctor Strange (1974) #40-41
    • Three-part crossover with Man-Thing (1979) #4
  • Defenders (1972) #97-98
    • The story continues in the Nexus of Realities in Defenders #99-100, but without Man-Thing 
  • Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #1-12 [B Stories]
  • Incredible Hulk (1962) #389, 427-428
  • Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #164-167
  • Daydreamers (1997) #1-3
    • One of the few comics where Man-Thing speaks!
  • Hulk (1999) #4-7
  • Man-Thing (1997) #1-8
  • Strange Tales (1998) #1-2
    • Continues from Man-Thing (1997) #8
  • Peter Parker, Spider-Man ’99 (1999) Annual #1
    • aka “Spider-Man Annual #1999”

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Extra reading:

  • Savage She-Hulk (1980) #7-8
  • Howard the Duck (1979) #6-7
  • Uncanny X-Men (1981) #144
  • Marvel Two-in-One (1974) #77
  • Thor (1966) #316-317
  • Marvel Team-Up (1972) #122
  • Marvel Fanfare (1982) #9, #36 [B Story]
  • Marvel Age Annual (1985) #2
  • Web of Spider-Man Annual (1985) #4
  • Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #29 [D Story]
  • Iron Man (1968) #275
  • The Legion of Night (1991) #1-2
    • Team created by Jennifer Kale
  • Quasar (1989) #31, 50-51
    • #51 flashback cameo only
  • Nomad (1992) #21
  • Starblast (1993) #1 (flashback cameo only)
  • Cable (1993) #13-14
  • Midnight Sons
    • Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme (1988) #61
    • Blaze (1994) #2
    • Midnight Sons Unlimited (1993) #8
    • Ghost Rider (1990) #77-83, 86, 92
      • Jennifer Kale helps Danny Ketch explore the legacy of the Ghost Rider
      • #92 reveals Jennifer’s sexuality in a vision from the future
    • Cyblade/Ghost Rider (1997) #1
      • Jennifer Kale hanging out with her cousins Danny and Johnny

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  • Over the Edge (1995) #2
    • Jennifer Kale story
  • X-Force (1991) #85, 87, 96, 100
    • Jennifer Kale story
  • Generation X (1994) #25
  • Heroes Reborn: The Return (1997) #1-2
    Marvel Team-Up (1997) #4
  • Shadows and Light (1998) #2 [B Story]
  • Peter Parker, Spider-Man ’99 (1999) Annual #1
    • aka “Spider-Man Annual (1997) #1999”
  • Captain Marvel (1999) #9-10
    • Flashback cameo only
  • Domination Factor: Fantastic Four (1999) #3.5-4.7
    • Nexus of All Realities story
  • X-Force (1991) #100
  • Ultimate Man-Thing
    • Ultimate Marvel Team-Up (2001) #10
    • Ultimate Fantastic Four (2004) #7
    • Ultimate Spider-Man (2000) #71
    • Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem (2009) #2
  • Marvel Knights: Double-Shot (2002) #2 [B Story]
  • Marvel Universe: The End (2003) #5-6

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Dead of Night, Marvel Zombies, & Howling Commandos (2000s)

Manny mania didn’t die down in the 2000s. With the early Marvel Studios buzzing after the success of Blade (1998), development on a Man-Thing film began in the early 2000s. The movie eventually came out in 2005… and went straight to DVD. You’ve probably never seen it, and it’s probably better that way. However the writer of the movie also wrote a tie-in prequel comic that wasn’t half-bad, and that’s what we’re here for, right?

Maybe as a response to the movie’s abysmal disappointment, Dead of Night was an edgy, “R-rated” reinterpretation of Man-Thing’s origin story. Yet at the same time, the silly swamper was an occasional guest star in the adventures of the friendly Legion of Monsters. Under the pen of Deadpool writer Gerry Duggan, the Legion even evolved into a new version of the “Howling Commandos” (yes, the same name as Captain America’s team).

I would highly encourage readers to check out the Legion of Monsters series to see how Man-Thing works among the team that Marvel may be setting up in their upcoming Disney+ special! Other Legion characters include Werewolf by Night and Elsa Bloodstone, both of whom are set to appear.

  • Man-Thing: Whatever Knows Fear… (2004) #1-3
    • Prequel tie-in comic for the 2005 movie
    • Written by Hans Rodionoff, writer of the 2005 movie and an unmade Werewolf By Night script
  • Dead of Night MAX: Featuring Man-Thing (2008) #1-4
    • Alternate timeline
  • Marvel Zombies 3 (2008) #1
  • Marvel Zombies 4 (2009) #1-4
  • Spider-Man: Fear Itself (2009) #1
  • Howling Commandos (2015)
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. (2015) #5-6, 9
    • Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos (2015) #1-4
      • Slightly different timeline due to Secret Wars (2015)
    • Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2015) #1, 4-6
    • Old Man Logan (2016) #14-15
    • Spider-Man/Deadpool (2016) #1, 15, 23-25, 27-28, 31, 36
      • #28 and 36 feature a Man-Thing Life-Model Decoy (LMD)!
    • Check here for more Howling Commandos recommended reading!

Theory: Marvel Studios Could be Setting Up a Legion of Monsters

Extra watching:

  • Man-Thing (2005)

Extra reading: 

  • Witches (2004) #1-4
    • Jennifer Kale, Topaz, and Satana, vs Lilith, mother of demons!
    • Features the return of Jennifer’s brother Andy Kale
    • #2 confirms that Jennifer is queer, but in the closet
  • Nightcrawler (2004) #9-10
  • She-Hulk (2005) #17, 20
    • #17 Swamp cameo only
  • What If? X-Men – Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire (2007) #1 (Nexus of All Realities story)
  • X-Men: First Class (2007) #8
  • X-Men: First Class Finals (2009) #3 [B Story]
  • Marvel Comics Presents (2007) #12 [C Story]
  • Avengers: The Initiative (2007) #19
    • Jennifer Kale story
  • New Avengers (2005) #53
    • Jennifer Kale story
  • Marvel TV: Galactus – The Real Story (2009) #1
  • Ghost Rider (2006) #32
  • Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth (2009) #6, 13
  • Dark Avengers (2009) #10
  • Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural (2009) #5
  • Web of Spider-Man (2009) #6
  • Deadpool Team-Up (2010) #894
  • Deadpool v. Gambit (2016) #3-5 (cameos)
  • Civil War II: Choosing Sides (2016) #5 [B Story]
  • Doctor Strange (2015) #5, 12, 17, 19 (cameos)

man-thing covers

 

 

Thunderbolts, the Fearsome Four, & the Curse of the Man-Thing (2010s)

On the other side of Marvel, Man-Thing was also busy with a couple of “villain” teams. He was on the Thunderbolts as they went against the Dark Avengers, and he even formed “The Fearsome Four” with terrifying threats like Frankenstein’s Monster, She-Hulk, and Howard the Duck. After that, Manny had a short run with beloved Goosebumps writer R.L. Stine. With great art, great ideas, but chaotic writing, the series received mixed reviews. He joined yet another iteration of the Midnight Sons in 2018’s Damnation event but again played only a small role. Finally, in 2019, my favorite little buddy “Boy-Thing” debuted in Jason Aaron’s Avengers. Essentially the Baby Groot version of Man-Thing, Boy-Thing quickly became Blade’s partner in crime and is a refreshing addition to the Man-Thing mythos. 

  • Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers (2006) #144-162, 176-183
    • Thunderbolts retitled to Dark Avengers at #175
  • Fear Itself: Fearsome Four (2011) #1-4
  • Shame Itself (2011) #1 [multiple stories]
  • Red She-Hulk (2012) #66-67
  • Deadpool (2013) #39, 45
  • Wolverines (2015) #19-20
  • You Are Deadpool (2018) #3
  • Man-Thing by R.L.Stine (2017) #1-5
  • Damnation (2018)
    • Doctor Strange: Damnation (2018) #1-2
    • Doctor Strange (2015) #387
    • Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider (2017) #15 (optional)
    • Doctor Strange: Damnation (2018) #3
    • Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider (2017) #16 (optional)
    • Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider (2017) #17 (optional)
    • Doctor Strange: Damnation (2018) #4

man-thing covers

  • Boy-Thing
    • Avengers (2018) #14-17, 21-24, 27-30, 32, 45, 55
    • Ant-Man (2020) #3 (cameo)
  • Curse of the Man-Thing (2021)
    • Avengers: Curse of The Man-Thing (2021) #1
    • Spider-Man: Curse of the Man-Thing (2021) #1
    • X-Men: Curse of The Man-Thing (2021) #1

Extra watching:

  • Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?! (2009) S1 E15, E18, E40; Specials E17, E25
  • Super Hero Squad Show (2011) S2 E17
    • Tie-in comic: Marvel Super Hero Squad (2010) #10
  • Ultimate Spider-Man (2012) S2 E22
  • Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (2013) S2 E9
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) S2 E0 (shorts #4 & #6)
    • “Pick up the Pieces” shorts are also referred to as S2 E1
  • Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell (2016)

Video games:

  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (2011)
  • Contest of Champions (2014)
  • Avengers Academy (2016)
  • LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 (2017)
  • LEGO Marvel’s Avengers (2016) (Jennifer Kale only)

Extra reading:

  • Spider-Man: Back in Quack (2010) #1
  • Tomb of Terror (2010) #1
  • Avengers Academy (2010) #4, 34
    • #34 is a Jennifer Kale story
  • Hulk (2008) #25
  • Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt (2011) #1
    • Jennifer Kale story
  • Fear Itself: The Worthy (2011) #1 (B Story “I’m the Juggernaut”)
    • Also referred to as “Fear Itself: The Worthy (2011) #2”

man-thing covers

  • Wolverine and the X-Men (2011) #17
  • New Avengers (2010) #31
    • Jennifer Kale story
  • Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe (2012) #4 (alternate timeline)
  • Uncanny Avengers Annual (2014) #1
  • Elektra (2014) #9
    • Jennifer Kale story
  • Howard the Duck (2015) #1, 3-5
    •  Features the Nexus of All Realities
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy (2017) #4
  • Secret Warriors (2017) #2
  • All-New Guardians of the Galaxy (2017) #12
  • Amazing Spider-Man (2018) #37
  • Fantastic Four (2018) #26
  • Strange Academy (2020) #2, 6-7
  • Savage Avengers (2019) #23
  • Avengers (2018) #6, 40-41
  • Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2016) #37
  • Deadpool: Assassin (2018) #4
  • Witches Unleashed (2021) (novel)
    • Jennifer Kale story
  • Fantastic Four (2018) #40 (cameo)
  • Thor (2020) #22
  • Hulk: Grand Design – Monster (2022) #1
  • Hulk: Grand Design – Madness (2022) #1

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Multiverse of Man-Thing

Of course, with such a mystical, macabre, and misunderstood character, there’s rich potential for multiversal madness! Gathered here are our top picks for Man-Thing tales across the multiverse. If there’s something we missed, please let us know!

  • What If? (1976) #26 (“What If the Man-Thing Had Regained Ted Sallis’ Brain?”)
  • Howard the Duck-Thing
    • Howard the Duck (1980) #8
  • Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham (1985) #10
  • Man-Thang / Man-Thank (you’re welcome)
    • What The–?! (1988) #2-3, 6, 11, 14, 26
    • in #2, Man-Thang and Swamp-Thang compete in a dating game show on TV
  • What If…? (1989) #6, 11, 95, 103
    • #11 Sue Storm becomes Man-Thing
    • #6, 95 – Jennifer Kale cameos
    • #103 – Ted Sallis cameo
  • Bat-Thing (1997) #1
    • Swamp-Thing + Man-Thing + Man-Bat
  • Doctor Strange Man-Thing
    • Mutant X Annual (1999) #1999, 2001 
    • Mutant X (1998) #12, 32
  • Marvel Knights Millennial Visions (2001) #1
  • Howard the Duck (2007) #1
  • Fred Hembeck universe
    • Fantastic Four Roast (1982) #1
    • Marvel Age (1983) #21
  • Strange Tales II (2010) #1
  • Shame Itself (2011) #1 [multiple stories]
  • Giant-Size Little Marvel: AVX (2015) #1, 4
  • She-Man-Thing
    • Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars (2015) #1

  • Crazy (2019) #1 [multiple stories]
  • Man-Thing of the Savage Land
    • Savage Wolverine (2013) #4
    • Empyre (2020) #5
    • Empyre: Avengers (2020) #1-3
  • Man-Thing Army, Mossy, Toth, & Swamp Queen Jennifer Kale
    • Toth is the son of Mossy, a Man-Thing from Weirdworld!
    • Weirdworld (2015a) #3-5
    • Weirdworld (2015b) #5
    • Secret Wars Journal (2015) #2 (cameo)
    • Deadpool (2018) #4
    • Champions (2016) #22-23, 25-27
      • #25-26 feature Multiversal Jennifer Kale
    • Dr. Strange (2020) #2
    • Strange Academy (2020) #1-17
      • #9, 11-12 feature Mossy, Toth’s father
      • #2, 6-7 feature Ted Sallis
      • Ties into Death of Doctor Strange (2021)
    • Death of Doctor Strange (2021) #1
    • Strange Academy Presents: Death of Doctor Strange (2021) #1
      • After Strange Academy #12
    • Death of Doctor Strange: Avengers (2021) #1
      • Nexus of All Realities cameo
  • Man-Slaughter
    • Weapon Plus: World War IV (2020) #1
    • X-Force (2020) #21-22
  • Doc Ock Man-Thing
    • Devil’s Reign: Superior Four (2022) #2-3
  • The Man-Thing Avengers
    • Avengers Forever (2022) #5

 

Extra reading:

  • Doom 2099 (1992) #16 (Nexus of All Realities in the 2099 universe)
  • Exiles (2001) #10
  • Universe X
    • Universe X (2000) #0, 5, 8
    • Universe X: Beasts (2001) #1
    • Paradise X: Devils (2002) #1 
  • Extraordinary X-Men (2016) #9
  • Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #18 (August, 2006)
  • What If…? (1989) #1
  • Ka-Zar the Savage #34
  • Adventures of the X-Men #11-12

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And that’s anything and everything you need to know about Man-Thing! What are you going to read next? How excited are you for Marvel’s Halloween special? Let me know on Twitter @vinwriteswords and remember to follow the site @MyCosmicCircus for more cosmic content!

Of course, be sure to check out our other reading guides here and stay tuned to The Cosmic Circus for more coming soon!

All images courtesy of Marvel Comics.

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Reviews, reading guides, and crazy theories. Currently obsessing over Moon Knight, Blade, and Doctor Strange. Find me on Twitter @vinwriteswords!
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