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Monday, September 9, 2019

Man-Thing's Debut, from Savage Tales 1 - a Review

Savage Tales
#1 (May 1971)

Roy Thomas/Gerry Conway-Gray Morrow

Doug: I'm back with another look at a black and white gem from the early Bronze Age. Today I'm reworking a post that originally ran on the Bronze Age Babies way back in May 2012. I'm providing scans for the Man-Thing story that appeared in Savage Tales #1; the source is the Marvel Firsts: The 1970's, volume 1 trade paperback (buy this book!). As the story is only 11 pages long, I'm hoping you'll find time today to read it and chime in with a comment or three. This is a break from my usual Good/Bad/Ugly format of thought. So without further ado...

Doug: Talk about art driven storytelling! How many of you are familiar with the work of Gray Morrow? I'd say I'm familiar with him, but wouldn't classify myself as a connoisseur, or really even a fan. But this is some beautiful illustration. I've always felt that John Buscema was a true master at drawing animals; Morrow is every bit his equal in this scene, above.

Doug: A little mystery, a little intrigue above. Ted Sallis is one hairy dude, and while I can accept that fact, hair sure isn't easy to draw. That just really looks off. Ellen - not so difficult to draw, however. And women apparently really did wear outfits like the one she has on when they leave the lab; you may have seen Mary Jane Watson similarly "garbed" in various issues of Amazing Spider-Man or Marvel Team-Up from this era. It is only slightly less-revealing than Ellen's negligee!

Doug: So did you see this coming? I would say that this is somewhat formulaic as far as twists go -- how many cop/lawyer/mystery TV shows use plot devices like this? And that Ted Sallis is going to use this mystery drug on himself? On the BAB, our readers had just seen this when we had reviewed the first appearance of the blue and furry Beast.

Doug: Ah, so Sallis was working on a sort of Super-Soldier formula. I'm not sure about the effects of the swamp water - at least Barry Allen got whacked by lightning and a whole bunch of chemicals. But the results are impressively rendered - sort of gives off a Bigfoot vibe on the page with the car approaching.

Doug: This is told like many an EC of yore, isn't it? And doesn't it just exude Bronze Age? Monsters, lots of skin, the re-imagining of the art in the B&W format, mature themes... Good stuff!

Doug:  OK, so you take it home - fill in any gaps I left in my comments, give an overall evaluation, discuss the Man-Thing as a character - whatever you have to say, lay it on us!


  1. Great choice for a post today, Doug! Been a Man-Thing fan from waaaay back. That was a solid introduction; Manny benefitted from a series of good artists.

    Regarding Gray Morrow- great illustrator. Probably my first exposure to his work was the 1967 Spiderman cartoon- Morrow did background animation on the second season. You can tell, too. Even as a 7 year old I could tell a difference.

    Years later his work caught my notice in various places. A Vigilante backup in Adventure Comics. A cover on Madhouse. An occasional horror tale. Stumbling upon a Morrow illustrated tale was always a pleasant surprise.

    And you're quite right, he nailed the animals...

  2. Another great post, I've never read this before, but this prompted me to go buy it at Comixology! Beautiful art from Morrow.


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