Legion of Monsters: Man-Thing

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By Jim Beard
There is a creature that dwells deep in the swamps, one who shuns the light of day…and the presence of humans. This is strange, for the creature was once human itself. Through a mixture of a volatile chemical cocktail and the intrusive and parasitic nature of the swamps, a man lost his humanity and gained an existence the likes of which no one should wish on another. Mute, shambling, barely cognizant, the creature is drawn to strong emotions like a bee to honey, and if he finds fear…yes, if he finds fear… Whatever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing! Born from the unique brand of creative insanity that was Marvel Comics' love-affair with monsters in the '70s, the Man-Thing quickly ruled the swamps, and his legend lives on to this day. His stories have always been quirky passion plays, little tales of pathos and pain and the darkness that lurks within us all. The Man-Thing has been schlepping around his swamp, the Nexus of All Realities, for years now, but he hasn't recently been given the spotlight he truly deserves. That's about to change. This March brings us the second in the Legion of Monsters series of one-shots, and drags the famous muck monster once again out into the open…whether he likes it or not. Your best buds here at Marvel.com slogged through the swamp to uncover all the confidential information on Legion of Monsters: Man-Thing and not only did we find his latest artist, we found an original participant from the Man-Thing's glory days. Mr. Klaus Janson, artist extraordinaire, actually inked some of the swamp creature's weird adventures back in the day, but now finds himself handling the full art chores on the Man-Thing's latest tale of bayous and bogs. Pulling him up with no great ease, we managed to get a few words out of Klaus before he sank once again down into the fetid waters: Marvel.com: How did you get involved with Legion of Monsters: Man-Thing? Janson: I was in the Marvel offices one day dropping off some art pages when [editor] John Barber asked me if I would like to do one of the stories that they were planning for the Legion of Monsters. I think he barely finished the sentence when I said yes! I love horror and monster stories, and I love the short story format very much. John initially offered me a Morbius story, which was exciting for me, but it turned out, however, that the Man-Thing story was only a few days away from its writing being finished. John told me a little bit of the story and I started to think of the swamp and all the cool things I could get to draw. So John took pity on me and was nice enough to offer me the Man-Thing story--just to get me to stop panting and wagging my tail! Marvel.com: You're salivating as we speak, Klaus. Good thing we're standing in a swamp. So, it was an easy sell then? Janson: Yes, and it turned out to be a fun story to draw. A cute girl and Gothic Southern mansions and swamps and a very twisted dinner party…how can anyone resist that? Marvel.com: Now we're panting and wagging our tails! You were already a fan of the Man-Thing, huh? Janson: Oh sure. Not to a stalker level, but I certainly enjoyed the original stories at the time they came out. Actually inked one or two. But penciling the character is a whole different experience. Much better! Marvel.com: He Who Stalks the Man-Thing…heh! Well, what was the very best part of this Man-Thing experience, Klaus? Janson: In a one-shot like this, everything goes into the visuals. No detail is spared. The artist only has to draw it once and that's a very liberating, creative feeling. It's great fun not to hold back and I felt like I could push myself a little on this story. Thanks, John! As he slowly descended back into the slime and muck, muttering something about Son of Satan and deadlines, we hurriedly turned to leave and ran smack into a shuffling, zombie-like figure who bore a strange, almost comical resemblance to writer/artist Ted McKeever! Realizing it really was McKeever and knowing that he was providing the Simon Garth Zombie bonus story for Legion of Monsters: Man-Thing, we quickly unpacked our interviewing equipment for a second go-round. Before his brain stopped working all together, McKeever had a precious few words to impart on his role in the book's proceedings: Marvel.com: Why Simon Garth? Why is The Zombie so attractive? McKeever: I was definitely a big fan and Tales of the Zombie was one of my regular reads. The black and white drew me in like a moth to a flame every time, and those covers were phenomenal. I have always been drawn to zombies in one form or another, but for me, what made the Simon Garth Zombie stand out as a favorite was that he was a central character. Not a mass of personality-void zombies, but the single main focus whose story drove each tale. Marvel.com: Well, to each their own, we guess…what can brave readers expect from your moldy old…err, new tale? McKeever: What I wanted to do was, well, a love story. Marvel.com: We must have slime in our ears. How's that again? McKeever: A tale of Zombie love. Since The Zombie was once a living man, he still must retain certain deep-rooted attributes we all have. One being the desire for companionship. So, I send Simon on this all-night journey through the city, basically…looking for love. And it's not a comedy either. Marvel.com: Okay, okay! You sold us! Now, can you just tell us what was your most favorite part of doing this Legion of Monsters story? McKeever: First, giving The Zombie a voice. Yeah, he's dead and all that, but he still has to have an inner voice. A mind that functions on a base level. He's not your typical zombie from film legend. He's got more in him then just grunts and moans, and towards the end of his run in Tales of the Zombie he actually was uttering small words. So, I just wanted to expand in that direction, only make it more cerebral than verbal. And secondly, to be able to work on a character that holds a very creative space in me, and gave me so much enjoyment from my childhood. With that, our little tour of the swamp was done. We don't know about you, but we ran straight back to the castle and cleared a space on the dissecting table for Legion of Monsters: Man-Thing. It's scheduled to arrive in fine comic shops and mausoleums everywhere on March 28th. Be there or be desiccated!
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