under thing


The Man-Thing is a fictional character in the , created by writers Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Gerry Conway and artist Gray Morrow in Savage Tales #1 (May 1971). He went on to be featured in various titles and in his own series, including Adventure into Fear, which introduced the popular character Howard the Duck. In 2005 Man-Thing was produced as a TV movie for the SciFi Channel.

Man-Thing is a large, slow-moving, vaguely humanoid creature living in the Florida Everglades near the Seminole reservation.

Publication history

Following the Man-Thing's 11-page debut in the black-and-white adventure-fantasy magazine Savage Tales #1 (May 1971), the character next appeared as an antagonist of Marvel's jungle-lord hero Ka-Zar in a two-part story in Astonishing Tales #12-13 (June-Aug. 1972). Man-Thing received his own 10-page feature shortly thereafter, beginning in Adventure into Fear #10 (Oct. 1972), sharing that anthological title with reprinted 1950s horror/fantasy stories. Steve Gerber, who would become Man-Thing's signature writer, succeeded Conway the following issue. The feature expanded to 15 pages with #12, became 16 pages two issues later, and reached the standard 19-page length of Marvel superhero comics with issue #15. After issue #19 (Dec. 1973), Man-Thing received his own solo title, which ran 22 issues (Jan. 1974 - Oct. 1975). A sister publication was the quarterly Giant-Size Man-Thing #1-5 (Aug. 1974 - Aug. 1975), which featured 1950s horror-fantasy and 1960s science fiction/monster reprints as back-up stories, with a Howard the Duck feature added in the final two issues. The fifth issue was a prequel, with Madame Swabada showing Ted Sallis (with Ellen Brandt) his future as Man-Thing, including stories by writers other than Gerber in a Gerber frame, with Gerber also writing the first story). Following Morrow, the main series' primary pencillers were, successively, Val Mayerik, Mike Ploog, John Buscema, and Jim Mooney.

In the final issue, writer Gerber appeared as a character in the story, claiming he had not been inventing the Man-Thing's adventures but simply reporting on them and that he had decided to move on. Gerber continued to write Man-Thing guest appearances in other Marvel titles, as well as the serialized, eight-page Man-Thing feature in the omnibus series Marvel Comics Presents #1-12 (Sept. 1988 - Feb. 1989).

A second Man-Thing series ran 11 issues (Nov. 1979 - Jan. 1981). Writer Michael Fleisher and penciller Mooney teamed for the first three issues, with the letters page of #3 noting that Fleischer's work had received a great deal of negative criticism and that he had been taken off the book. He was succeeded by, primarily, writer Chris Claremont and illustrators Don Perlin (breakdowns) and Bob Wiacek (finished pencils).

J.M. DeMatteis began writing the character in a backup story in Man-Thing vol. 2, #9, which opened with a fill-in by Dickie McKenzie. DeMatteis would go on to write Man-Thing stories in Marvel Team-Up, The Defenders, Marvel Fanfare, and the limited series Daydreamers, as well as the eight-issue Man-Thing vol. 3 (Dec. 1997 - July 1998), illustrated by Liam Sharp. The two would re-team for the Man-Thing feature in the two-issue Strange Tales vol. 3 (Sept.-Oct. 1998).

In the 2000s, Man-Thing has starred in a handful of stories appearing in one-shots and limited series, including Marvel Knights Double Shot #2 (July 2002) and Legion of Monsters: Man-Thing #1 (May 2007).

In 2008, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa began a Marvel MAX retelling of his origin in Dead of Night: Man-Thing, hosted by the Digger.

Fictional character biography

Ted Sallis, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, is a biochemist working in the Everglades who develops a "miracle drug" later defined as an attempt at recreating the "super-soldier serum" that created Captain America. Betrayed by his lover, Ellen Brandt, Sallis flees from agents from Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), who covet his formula and research. He injects himself with the serum, but after crashing in a swamp and apparently drowning, he is transformed into a swamp creature through a combination of his formula and, as later explained, magical forces extant in the area. Sallis' mind was apparently extinguished, although on rare occasions he could briefly return to consciousness within his monstrous form, and even to his human form. Sallis' assistant was an elderly African-American scientist, Dr. Wilma Calvin.

Before long, the Man-Thing first encountered Ka-Zar, and agents of A.I.M.. After that, he first encountered the sorceress Jennifer Kale, and battled the demon Thog the Nether-Spawn.

Visitors to the swamp soon discovered it was a place of mystical properties known as the Nexus of All Realities, and the Man-Thing visited an extra-dimensional world and met the benevolet Dakimh the Enchanter. Man-Thing then first encountered Wundarr (later known as the Aquarian), and then Howard the Duck. At one point Man-Thing first encountered the Thing. Later, he first encountered the Foolkiller.

Man-Thing became the Guardian of the Nexus of Realities, and found himself facing demons, ghosts, and time-traveling warriors, while continuing to encounter such non-supernatural antagonists as rapacious land developers, fascist vigilantes, and common criminals. Regular visitors included Thog the Nether-Spawn, Dakimh, Howard the Duck, and several humans, including members of the Cult of Zhered-Na (led by Jennifer Kale's father, Joshua). Developer Franklin Armstrong Schist attempted to build an airport in Citrusville. Dakimh declared that he, Man-Thing, Jennifer, Korrek Warrior Prince of Katharta, and Howard were the chosen five needed to defeat Thog.

Twenty-something radio DJ Richard Rory moves to Citrusville. He and nurse Ruth Hart become involved in defending Man-Thing from Schist's attempts to destroy the creature. Rory in particular formed a bond with Man-Thing, while Hart left Rory for Hell's Kitchen, New York City.

In time, reality set in and the energy crisis prevented Schist from completing his airport. The reason for the airport was then revealed: Schist wanted to find the Fountain of Youth. Unfortunately, he learned the hard way that the desired effects of the fountain's water come from bathing in it, not drinking it, and with a newly fragile body, was done in by Man-Thing.

Gerber also wrote five longer issues of a parallel series, Giant-Size Man-Thing, whose unintentional double entendre title became a common joke among comics readers (a "giant-size" comic is one with more pages than a standard comic book). The first issue introduced the Cult of Entropy, who would later be foes of the Incredible Hulk and Howard the Duck, even reaching the latter's newspaper strip. Man-Thing first encountered Yagzan and the Cult of Entropists. In the second issue, Schist's widow and daughter arrange to have the Man-Thing captured, but he escapes and runs amok in Manhattan. The third issue featured the death of Dakimh's physical form, though his spirit would continue to appear, while the fourth began the solo adventures of Howard the Duck. In the fifth issue, we see that Ted Sallis had prior knowledge of his future as Man-Thing from a fortune teller, who outraged him rather than making him pay heed.

At one point, an astral pirate ship headed by Captain Fate, ended up in the Nexus. A scientist, Dr. Maura Spinner, was the reincarnation of a pirate queen and both were linked with a satyr named Khordes. In a controversial ending about which Gerber expressed regrets with having written, Spinner stayed with Khordes.

Soon, Gerber was delving into Ted Sallis's past. In a text story in Monsters Unleashed #8 and #9, it was revealed that Sallis had slept with an underage girl, whose father sought to kill the current occupant of his shack. In Daredevil #108, Gerber introduced Foggy Nelson's sister Candace, who was being harassed over research she was doing at Empire State University. In issue #113, this was revealed to be about the Sallis Papers, research that could have turned the human race into smog-breathing monsters and allow industry to proceed unchecked. In Man-Thing #15, we are introduced to Sainte-Cloud, a young woman who helped Sallis decide to abandon the project. Sometimes this has been erroneously cited as the project that created Man-Thing, though it is made clear in the stories that this is an earlier project.

The final arc of the Gerber series (16, GS4, 17-22) dealt with a hypermasculine laborer named Sorensen forced into retirement at age 65. He went on a rampage as a Mad Viking, killed his daughter Astrid's artist boyfriend, and allied himself with Olivia Selby, who led a book burning riot at Citrusville High School, leading to the slaughter of several teachers. Man-Thing's involvement led to him being dumped in the local sewage treatment plant, which only increased his ability to leave the swamp, while Richard Rory got fired by the local radio station for speaking out against the book burning on air. Rory attempted to leave for Atlanta, and Man-Thing and Carol Selby, Olivia's daughter, demanded to go with him. In Atlanta, they met Robert Nicolle, a man with neither feeling nor physical sensation, who appeared as the costumed criminal the Scavenger, and whose sister, Dani Nicolle, had her sensations on overload and must project them into objects called Nightmare Boxes.

Man-Thing later first encountered Jude the Entropic Man. Man-Thing then first encountered D'Spayre and Spider-Man. Man-Thing also encountered Doctor Strange, and aided Strange against Baron Mordo.

A scientist, Dr. Oheimer, attempted to restore Ted Sallis's mind, now scattered about in ganglia throughout Man-Thing's body. A love triangle then took Man-Thing to the Himalayas. Chris Claremont, the writer by this point, introduced himself as a character in the final issue of Volume 2, as Steve Gerber had in the finale of Volume 1. Additionally, Claremont temporarily became the Man-Thing after being stabbed to death by possessed-Sheriff John Daltry. His and other characters' deaths were later resolved with the intervention of the War is Hell series lead, John Kowalski, now an aspect of Marvel Comics' manifestation of Death. Man-Thing later appeared briefly alongside the superhero Cyclops, aiding him in a battle against the supernatural villain D'Spayre.

Man-Thing became embroiled in a U.S. government conspiracy involving Ted Sallis's "super-soldier" serum. Later, the extra-dimensional Quagmire came into this reality through the Man-Thing's body.

Powers and abilities

Man-Thing is a former scientist who was transformed into a creature composed of vegetable matter through the synergistic interaction of mystical energy and chemical mutagens. He became a nearly mindless mass of slime with no particular affinity to any living thing, but who nevertheless often becomes an accidental hero as it stumbles upon various crime and horror scenarios. It is able to sense human emotions, and is enraged by fear and automatically secretes a strong chemical corrosive; anyone feeling fear and clutched by the Man-Thing is prone to be burned (either chemically or mystically), hence the series' tag-line, "Whatever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing's touch." Though fear is understandably most people's response to the creature, typically only villains end up meeting an immolating death at its hands.

The Man-Thing possesses a variety of superhuman powers that are derived from the interaction of the scientific formula created by Ted Sallis and the mystical energies of the Nexus of Realities.

Man-Thing's superhuman strength varies considerably in his comic book appearances. Initially, the Man-Thing is only slightly stronger than Captain America, but in later appearances, the Man-Thing possesses sufficient superhuman strength to stand toe to toe with much stronger villains.

The Man-Thing's body is practically invulnerable to harm. Because his body is not entirely solid, but composed of the muck and vegetative matter of the swamp, fists, bullets, knives, energy blasts, etc. will either pass entirely through him or will harmlessly be lodged within his body. Even if a vast portion of the Man-Thing's body were to be ripped away or incinerated, he would be able to reorganize himself by drawing the necessary material from the surrounding vegetation.

The Man-Thing is also able to ooze his body through openings or around barriers that would seem too small for him to pass though. The smaller the opening, the longer it will take for him to reorganize his mass upon reaching the other side.

Unusual psychic and mystical forces react in what passes as the "brain" cells located throughout his body. These unique forces render the Man-Thing extremely sensitive to emotions. Emotions that are mild and generally considered positive arouse curiosity and the Man-Thing will sometimes observe from a distance. However, emotions that are often viewed as negative, such as violent emotions, rage, anger, hatred and fear, cause the Man-Thing great discomfort and might provoke him to attack. Once provoked into violent actions, his body secretes highly concentrated sulfuric acid that can burn human beings to ashes within a matter of seconds. Even individuals that have high levels of superhuman durability have proven unable to withstand this potent acid (except, perhaps the Hulk). While the Man-Thing is devoid of violent emotions, his body produces a type of foamy, soapy mucus that neutralizes the acid.

The Man-Thing is dependent upon the swamp he inhabits for his continued survival. He is able to leave the swamp, and has done so on many occasions, sometimes for a considerable length of time, although the Man-Thing does not willingly travel outside the environment of his swamp. However, his body will slowly weaken and eventually lapse into dormancy if not returned to the swamp or exposed to clean water. His exposure to the Citrusville waste treatment plant greatly enhanced his ability to leave the swamp.

Although the Man-Thing is non-sentient, Ted Sallis possessed a PhD. in biochemistry.

Comic book spin-offs

Gerber introduced Howard the Duck in a Man-Thing story in Adventure into Fear #19. Howard, who was displaced from a planet of anthropomorphics in another dimension via the swamp's Nexus of All Realities, later acquired his own series.

The Foolkiller, a vigilante who used a ray-gun to disintegrate not only criminals but anyone he considered foolish, was introduced in issue #3 of this series, bent on slaying disc jockey Richard Rory, introduced in the previous issue. When Rory served time for trumped-up kidnapping charges, he accidentally created another Foolkiller when he revealed too much detail about the previous incarnation and the whereabouts of his gear. This Foolkiller became an occasional villain in other Marvel comics. Both Rory and this second Foolkiller, along with nurse Ruth Hart (who appeared in Man-Thing # 2-5) were supporting characters in Gerber's Omega the Unknown, while David Anthony Kraft made Rory a potential love interest for She-Hulk. A third version of the character, who was in internet communication with the second, starred in Gerber's 1990 Foolkiller miniseries.

Other versions

Mutant X

The Mutant X comic book series depicts a Marvel Universe in which characters' counterparts are vastly different. In the Mutant X Annual '99 (1999), Dr. Strange, the sorcerer supreme of Earth, reveals himself to be the Man-Thing. He returns in Mutant X Annual '01 (2001) and Mutant X #32 (June 2001)


Amazing Adventures volume 2 #38 tells the story of what happened when Killraven stumbled across the Miami Museum of Cultural Development and became caught up in the projected dreams of an astronaut from the "Mars launch in 1999." During the hallucination, Killraven encountered distorted versions of numerous Marvel characters. Rather ambiguously, the awakened astronaut later described the figures as "all the heroes from my youth" but he also often referred to them as "myths." The only Marvel character that is definitely "real" in the projected nightmare is the Man-Thing who appears as part of an actual memory of an encounter that the astronaut had with the creature in the Florida Everglades.

Ultimate Man-Thing

Ultimate Man-Thing, in the alternate-universe Ultimate Marvel imprint, is similar to his traditional counterpart in mainstream continuity. In his first appearance, he teamed with Spider-Man in Ultimate Marvel Team Up #10, unwittingly saving the superhero from the Lizard. Additionally, in Ultimate Fantastic Four #7, during a flashback that transformed Reed and his colleagues into the Fantastic Four, the Man-Thing is shown for a moment. It has been hypothesized that Man-Thing and those affected by the N-Zone share some elemental bond, being as they are representations of earth (Thing), fire (Human Torch), water (Mr. Fantastic), air (Invisible Woman), metal (Dr Doom) and himself wood.

What If

The second story in the alternate-reality anthology What If #26 (April 1981) asked, "What if the Man-Thing had Regained Ted Sallis' Brain?" Written by Steven Grant, with art by penciller Herb Trimpe and inker Bob Wiacek. In the story, an alligator Dr. Oheimer was working on became the new Man-Thing while Sallis self-immolated at his own fear. What If vol. 2, #11 (March 1990) featured the Fantastic Four in four scenarios written and penciled by Jim Valentino, showing what might have happened if the team-members had all had the same powers as one another. In "What if the Fantastic Four had All Become Monsters Like the Thing?", Sue Storm's appearance was that of the Man-Thing. In this form she had lost all but her very basic intelligence and could no longer speak.

Marvel Zombies

Man-Thing also appears in the Marvel Zombies universe, beginning in Marvel Zombies 3, issue 1 where the issue takes place in the Florida Everglades. A young member of the undead surfaces in the swamp to which Man-Thing's arm can be quickly seen, terminating the zombie before it resurfaces. He is next seen walking away in the distance.


Man-Thing, a TV-movie directed by Brett Leonard and written by Hans Rodionoff, premiered on the U.S. Sci Fi Channel, under the Sci Fi Pictures label, on April 30, 2005. An uncut version appeared on DVD June 14, 2005.. Produced by the studio Lionsgate, it is based loosely on a Steve Gerber storyline involving the unscrupulous land developer F.A. Schist. Three characters are named after some of the original comics' creators: Robert Mammone as "Mike Ploog", William Zappa as "Steve Gerber", and director Leonard himself as "Val Mayerik" (misspelled "Mayerick" in the credits).


Original stories

Ultimate Man-Thing

Guest appearances

This list is complete through July 1981

Non-Continuity Appearances


  • Monsters Unleashed #3 (Nov. 1973)

Reprints Savage Tales #1 story

  • Monsters Unleashed Annual #1 (1975)

Reprints Monsters Unleashed #5 story

Reprints Marvel Two-in-One #77.

  • Book of the Dead #1-4 (Dec. 1993)

Reprints stories from Savage Tales #1, Fear #11, Fear #12, and The Man-Thing #11

Reprints Man-Thing movie prequel #1-3, Savage Tales #1 & Adventure into Fear #16 stories

  • The Essential Marvel Two-in-One (2005)

Reprints Marvel Two-in-One #1 (and other issues).

Reprints Fear #16 with Tomb of Dracula #10 and the first Satana story from Vampire Tales #2

  • The Essential Man-Thing (2006)

Reprints Savage Tales #1, Astonishing Tales #12-13, Adventure Into Fear #10-19, Man-Thing #1-14; Giant-Size Man-Thing #1-2; Monsters Unleashed #5, 8-9.

Reprints Avengers #118.

Reprints Legion of Monsters: Man-Thing #1.



External links


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