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Psych Ward

Psych Ward: Man-Thing

Attempting understand one of the most enigmatic beings in the Marvel Universe...

By Tim Stevens

All notes contained within come from naturalistic observation. No therapy or consultation was performed.

Man-Thing is what is often referred to as a “creature” or, less charitably, a “monster.” It presents as essentially a large humanoid shambling bush with a face reminiscent of a baby elephant. A review of the scant information on the subject reveals that it was once a human being known as Dr. Theodore Sallis, a biochemist, who was turned into the Man-Thing due to an act of terrorist sabotage.

Although historically there have been signs that Sallis’s mind still exists within the subject, this writer was unable to discern any actions that would indicate the possibility. This is not to say, however, that it did not show signs of some intelligence or agency. It does appear to have a sense of morality and acts in accordance with that morality, defending others and standing against individuals who might seek to destroy the native habitat. Additionally, it does seem to recognize people and is capable of forming opinions, positive or negative, about those individuals. The creature even seems to have the capacity to hold grudges against those who it feels wronged by.

That said it does not appear that the subject can control the chemical touch that many know it for. Instead, it seems to be triggered by those the Man-Thing is interacting with. The more extreme their emotions, the more likely they are to suffer chemical burns.

Since the time this writer had the opportunity to observe the creature, there has been rumors of some developments with the subject. For instance, it has apparently gained the ability to speak. However, there is no consensus about the voice or dialect in which Man-Thing speaks, raising the idea that this rumor might be inaccurate. In any case, this writer did not observe any such ability to communicate be it vocally or otherwise.

In general, however, this writer must stress how ill-suited he is for this kind of work. I have little experience with this type of creature and Man-Thing’s limited presentation of human characteristics greatly limits my skillset. I must recommend that you reach out to someone experienced in animal observation, as they will no doubt have a more thorough understanding of how the creature’s actions might reflect instinct or emotion, or, ideally, an expert in the study of creatures.

An excellent starting place would be THE INFERNAL MAN-THING from Doctors Steve Gerber and Kevin Nowlan which is available on July 4. Dr. Gerber is widely recognized as the greatest single observer of Man-Thing’s behavior.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Practicum Trainee. He does very little work with shambling swamp monsters.



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Get the Infernal Man-Thing comic mini-series! I read the first issue and it was phenomenal! The writing is just superb, every panel is hand PAINTED and just looks astounding. Each issue even comes with an old issue (that is related to the current story) from the original Man-Thing comic book in the 70s.