Friday, October 7, 2011

Discuss: Swamp Monsters

Man-Thing or Swamp Thing? Which walking muck-pile rules?


Rip Jagger said...

I've gotta' give the nod to Swamp Thing, if only for the bravura effort that comprise the first ten issues of that comic by Wein and Wrightson, which is almost all I know of the character. They are some of the best comics ever created. I'm reading them right now.

Man-Thing is weirder than Swamp Thing, and under the pen of Steve Gerber a vessel for truly bizarre and sometimes truly frightening comics. But the remoteness of the character, the very thing which makes him scary, limits his range.

Rip Off

Dino said...

Swamp Thing had a better origin story, early run, then the definitive take by Alan Moore, so my vote would have to go to that.
Man-Thing was ok, and I have a few issues, but my favourite issue with him was in X-Men, when Cyclops teamed up with him against D'Spayre...

david_b said...

Simple question here..: Which pre-dated which..?

I typically would lean towards liking Man-Thing more (out of my love for Bronze Marvel..), but in all actuality haven't logged much time reading either.

J.A. Morris said...

Swamp Thing, but I've never been a huge fan of either character. Maybe I'm just too much of a city dweller, stories set in swamps don't interest me too much.

But I had a friend who owned this Swamp Thing reprint, read it several times as a kid:
That first image of Arcane and the Un-Men is still amazing (sorry, can't find a scan).

And the same friend had some of the 80s Moore issues, I thought they were okay.

But Man-Thing stories never interested me too much. The whole "silent" thing made the character hard to get into. I don't mind a little text, but those Man-Thing issues go overboard in the "tell don't show" department.

The only Man-Thing stories I currently own are the stories that introduce Howard The Duck.

J.A. Morris said...

Meant to include this in my last comment:

Here's Man-Thing drawn by one of Swamp Thing's dads, on the cover of Hulk #197:

Mars Will Send No More said...

We discovered Man-Thing first, in the Claremont/Byrne Marvel Team-up story, at a young age. He was creepy, slimy, and set things on fire - Yes! But most of his stories were too darn goofy: the viking guy in ManThing 17, Howard the Duck in Man Thing 1, the micronauts being toy-sized in Micronauts 7... ugh.

Swamp Thing we discovered much later, with the Moore run. Now here was a horror character who had horrifying stories! He got much more depth and evolved as a character in Moore's stories - rather than the completely static Man Thing character.

So Swampy takes our vote for best character, probably becuase he got writers who had big ideas for him and actually made him a character, not a boring bogey man.

vancouver mark said...

Swamp Thing.
After their initial runs they were almost a toss-up, as ST had a brilliant first ten issues with stunning Berni Wrightson art, and Man-Thing of course had the crazy creativity of Steve Gerber. But the Moore/Bisette/Totleben years on SW in the 80's definitely tip the scales.

Edo Bosnar said...

Are we voting on which is the better concept, or which concept was used better (i.e., which character had better stories written for him)?
I like the concept of Man-Thing better - he's creepy, tragic and gross all at the same time. And I really enjoyed Gerber's run with the character. However, Moore's work with Swamp Thing was simply outstanding, one of the better runs on any comic book in general, and I have to grudgingly admit that those are the better stories.

kevin said...

You gotta be a helluvan artist to get people to be empathetic towards a character who lacks any expressive facial features, let alone his own voice. I had trouble believing that the narrator was really inside Man-Thing's head. The writer would've had an easier time describing the higher motivations of a lemming.

Swamp Thing by default.

Inkstained Wretch said...

This is a tough call. I found both characters to be off-putting for essentially the same reason: In the stories that I have read, the monsters’ ties to their former humanity were de-emphasized. That made it hard for me to empathize with them. And yet I enjoyed the stories nevertheless!

The Man-Thing must have been the tougher character to write for since he (it?) has no real consciousness and is essentially a wild animal. Steve Gerber got around this by making the Man-Thing a supporting character in stories populated by Gerber’s other wacky creations. I enjoyed those tales, but they still illustrated the limitations of the character.

If I had been writing the series, the first thing I would have done would be to plot a storyline wherein the Man-Thing regained at least some of his human mind, enough to make the character proactive and able to drive the plot. I know this kind of tragic monster-hero stuff hasn’t exactly fresh since Boris Karloff first played Frankenstein, but it does work.

Regarding Swamp Thing, I haven’t read the Len Wein/Bernie Wrightson stories, though I hear they are quite good. I have only read the Alan Moore stories.

Those comics are very good, though a bit overrated in my estimation. Moore was certainly imaginative and some of it was genuinely spooky, but his conception of the character left me a little cold.

Making the Swamp Thing a non-human “plant elemental” with god-like powers made the character a little too alien and strange for my tastes, especially his (its?) romance with Abby Arcane.

Moore has said that he thought the earlier version with the Swamp Thing -- a man transformed into a walking, thinking vegetable -- was already played out and that severing his connection to humanity opened up new paths for the character to go. That’s true, but I didn’t always like where those paths lead.

But it was still original, compelling stuff and Moore was able to sustain it for about four years. I lost interest after he left.

So I give the edge to Swamp Thing.

dbutler16 said...

I've never been into either character, but I'm more familiar with the Man-Thing because of crossovers with the X-Men and the Micronauts. I've never read Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing, either.

I do find it interesting that both characters debuted within a couple of months of each other. I think Man-Thing came out first, but both were probably independently created.

Inkstained Wretch said...

The Man-Thing's first appearance preceded Swamp Thing's by a scant one month.

The weird fact: The co-creators of both were roommates at the time. Len Wein, who wrote the first Swamp Thing tale, was rooming with Gerry Conway, who wrote the first Man-Thing tale. Both have claimed to not know what the other was doing.

Equally weird fact: Len Wein wrote the second Man-Thing story.

Read here:

Vintage Bob said...

I like both characters, but overall I like Man-Thing a little more. I think what makes me like Man-Thing more is that he's weirder looking and more unusual a character. The whole bizarre life form aspect, with people burning at his touch, and the weird face tentacles, the lack of ability to talk, etc, just make the character more unique I think.

Chris said...

My vote goes to Swamp-Thing. Not only for Moore's run (which is my favourite run of his on any comic. Better than Watchmen or Captain Britain) but also for the excellent Rick Veitch issues which followed it.

I always thought Man-Thing worked better as a "guest star".

Saying that, I've just recently picked up some Giant-size Man-Thing (stop it at the back) cheap from ebay for the Howard the Duck back-ups. It will be interesting to see how much I enjoy the main feature.

Redartz said...

I'd have to say Swamp Thing wins out overall, due to the quality of the art and the strength of the stories( Wein's and Moore's). Yet as a personal favorite, I'd choose Man-Thing. Steve Gerber's weirdness struck quite a chord with me at the time. As Inkstained noted, the other characters in Man-Thing's stories carried most of the action. It almost seemed a kind of horror anthology series; with MT playing a similsr role to Rod Serling.

Fred W. Hill said...

I wouldn't say I prefer one character over the other, but I do love most of Gerber's run on Man-Thing, much preferring his writing to Wein's on Swamp Thing, but of course Bernie Wrightson provided some truly magnificent art on S.T. Then there was Alan Moore's writing on Swamp Thing, particularly when enhanced by the art of Bissette and Tottleben, some of the greatest comics ever created, IMO.
About a year ago I re-read the original Man-Thing run, starting from his start in Fear, and while some of the early issues aren't great story-wise, Gerber gets much better as the series progresses, with highlights including the Clown, Dawg, and Mad Viking stories. The second series, from the late '70s, mostly bored me.

Karen said...

Visually I prefer Man-Thing because he's just so weird looking. But Swamp Thing has probably had the better stories over the years. Certainly he's a more interesting character.


Fred W. Hill said...

I agree, Karen, that Swampy is more interesting than Manny, but of course Man-Thing barely has more personality than a Venus flytrap while Swamp Thing, at least as re-imagined by Moore, is a plant with an entirely human personality. Gerber managed to come up with some entertaining, even thoughtful stories with Manny, but most of the interest involves the other characters, whether they're regulars such as Richard Rory or those that only stuck around for a particular story. Swamp Thing, of course, doesn't have that problem, and is somewhat more akin to the Thing than the Man-Thing, all swamp muckiness aside. Interesting that despite their many similarities, Man-Thing and Swamp Thing are still quite distinct characters in appearance and personality.

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