Whatever Knows Fear or Worry or General Concern Burns at the Touch of the Man-Thing
Written By: Steve Orlando
Art By: Francesco Mobili
Colors By: GURU-eFX
Letters By: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Art By: Daniel Acuña
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: MARCH 31, 2021
Hordeculture, the bio-terrorist collective, is back to put humanity’s population in check. This time, a junior member of the collective, Harrower, wants to wipe out humanity completely to let new life evolve into something better. Her radical plan? Use Man-Thing’s husk to engineer a WMD that wipes out anyone that coming in contact with the spores and experiences any form of fear. Humanity will burn. What can the Avengers do?
Was It Good?
For a first issue that crosses titles, it was just okay, but it fell flat. When you read the description above, it sounds pretty cool. Yet, hen you think about it, a terrorist wants to wipe out humanity and goes about it in the most convoluted and needlessly complicated manner possible.
An uber-capable bio-terrorist group that has access to advanced science and knows how to combine it with magic, and they come up with the slowest, most complicated plan to give the Avengers the most time to beat it. It would have been better if the conflict was more clever than complicated.
What’s It About?
Harrower, a junior member of Hordeculture, presents a plan to her seniors to wipe out humanity for the good of the planet. Initially, Harrower’s superiors object but after a brief explanation of Man-Thing’s origins, they agree to let her try with the caveat that they’ll step in if things get out of control.
Right off, the fine members of Hordeculture seem to have contradictory approaches to Harrower. They object because her plan is mass murder, but wouldn’t just attempting what she’s planning still be mass murder? The very existence of this group comes across as a convenient plot device.
Cut to Man-Thing answering a call for help in the swamps. It finds a man being consumed by the plants around him. Harrower steps out of the shadows and rips Man-Thing’s husk from its body, killing it except for some spores that float away.
The next morning, skyscraper-sized mushroom stalks sprout all over the world. Anyone who touches it catches on fire, and the Avengers are called in to investigate.
Not long after, the mushrooms burst and clouds of winged spore monsters come flying out. Again, anyone they touch or anyone that touches them catches on fire. The avengers try their best to clear civilians away from the area and destroying the flying spore monsters before anyone else gets hurt. They quickly figure out that the Avengers don’t catch on fire (not yet, anyway) because they’re not afraid. Fear is the catalyst that causes contact to spark a flame on the civilians.
Another odd point about this issue, She-Hulk is still in Neanderthal mode and talks in short, grunting phrases. Half the problem Black Panther and the other team members have is trying to figure out what She-Hulk is saying. It doesn’t make sense to have a complex infection scenario and one of the key members on the ground can’t form a complete sentence, but here we are. It’s frustrating to read.
She-Hulk is teamed up with Captain America and one of the Man-Thing spores released touches Cap’s shield. The spore sprouts a cocoon of vines that traps Cap. His mind wakes up in some sort of mental construct where he meets Ted Sallis, Man-Thing’s human consciousness. Sallis fills Cap in on what happened but clarifies he’s powerless to stop it.
Meanwhile, the giant mushroom stalks start spewing out tiny spores that set people on fire if inhaled. The threat is escalating, but again, it seems more complicated than clever.
In Wakanda, Black Panther figures out they can slow the giant mushroom WMD’s by blocking access to sunlight. in Australia, Captain Marvel catches on fire after breathing in a spore because she’s “afraid” she can’t save everyone. “Worry” is interchangeable with “fear” and “terror?”
Back to Cap’s mind, he tries to convince Sallis to help him stop the destruction but Sallis refuses. Not because he won’t help, but because he believes he can’t. Sallis didn’t create the super soldier serum that accidentally changed him into Swamp Thing.
This final revelation is a huge panel with tons of kinetic energy that somehow fails to leave any impact. He didn’t create the original formula. And? So? This is not how you do cliffhangers.
Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing #1 is a lot of fancy complicated machinations that establishes an extinction-level threat but it’s so contrived that it fails to make an impact. The art is decent enough but nothing memorable or stand-out.