ďA Flower in Alien SoilĒ
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Klaus Janson
Story and Art: Ted McKeever
Plots: The residents of Citrusville, FL have some odd dining habits; meanwhile, Simon Garth just canít rest in peace.
Comments: Rather than a full Man-Thing story, this issue presents a short story about him and another about another of Marvelís monstrous legion: Simon Garth, the studly vest-wearing zombie. Both characters are prone to stories about righteous vengeance taken on prideful sinners who deserve what they get. And if that sounds old-fashioned, itís because this slim issue amounts to a throwback to long-gone horror anthologies. Think EC comics, Marvel-style, and you still get a better job at the creepy gross-out than you do from DCís Tales of the Unexpected, without all the extraneous off-key weirdness of Vertigo.
In a way, itís all very standard and predictable. Thereís nothing here to surprise a genre fan. But both stories have their charms, due to a direct simplicity of storytelling that makes some obvious but entertaining moral points: rich people and street punks are bad, working stiffs and gardeners are good. Thereís something to a good cathartic horror story that leaves one feeling relieved, that somehow all is right with the world after all, that fate knows what itís doing, and both these stories pack that punch.
Man-Thing is an especially hard character to write, as he has no clear personality or consciousness. His stories are always about the people he meets, and whatever makes them so afraid that they burn at his touch. This story pits a corrupt and fearful aristocracy against the common sense of laboring people, and itís a fun little exercise. Iíd have purchased the issue for Jansonís art alone, as his rare forays into penciled work are always a professional mix of drama and grounded realism.
McKeever as well may have found a perfect match for his Gothic tendencies in Simon Garth. Heís one of those 70s vengeful lone wolf characters, who come into town and right a wrong, only to be left as empty when they leave as when they arrived. The definition of a drifter, this muscular revenant has consciousness of a grim and fatalistic sort, and an extreme version of morality. Here heís improbably looking for love, but McKeever somehow finds a modicum of romantic whimsy amidst the forensic brutality. Itís a Valentine Halloween, macabre without being Grand Guignol.
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