Monday, October 27, 2014


Comics are not shy of monsters which are really men under the scales, shells and swamp matter. Matter of fact, that’s kind of the whole “heroic monster” gimmick, from The Hulk to The Thing, Swamp Thing and Man-Thing, the Heap, Man-Wolf, Morbius, et cetera and so on. It takes an Atlas-Seaboard, though, to hit the nail so precisely on the head with a man-monster actually called “Man-Monster.”

Debuting in Tales of Evil, Man-Monster shared company with another recurring Atlas-Seaboard man-monster, the Bog-Beast – unsurprisingly a loam-laden anthropoid who lumbered around and started fires, so in no small part inspired by Marvel’s Man-Thing – and a lot of werewolves. The Atlas-Seaboard comics had a pretty even investment in vampires and werewolves, with the majority of the latter sharing space in these pages.

Misandry is real.
Man-Monster, however, enjoyed a single appearance in the final issue of Tales of Evil, succumbing as it did to the total collapse of the Atlas line after a valiant effort to stick it to Marvel’s new owners, Cadence. Former Olympic champion swimmer and perennial bad boy Paul Sanders eventually becomes the red-skinned amphibian man while trying to impress a pair of lady reporters from “Women’s Lib Magazine”, which frankly sounds like a trade journal. Brash, swell-headed, and simmering with potent resentment against his tough, accomplished multi-millionaire oilman of a father, Paul takes the bikini-bedecked journalists out on a leisurely sail in his yacht to get a better look at his pop’s closest oil rig! Sure, that sounds like fun.

Showing off, the still-hungover Paul encounters a mass of a strange “bacterial force” unleashed from the bottom of the ocean by the drill’s persistent plunging. The force “activates” the “algae on the ocean’s surface” causing it to explosively bloom – into a tidal wave! I’m not sure that’s how it works, but whatever the case, Paul is swamped underneath a boiling tumult of microscopic lifeforms gathered up from the bottom of the ocean. Some combination of the “activated” algae, bacteria and possibly Paul’s besotted liver cause a weird change when the man is dragged back to the surface: He becomes a Detroit Coney.

Bright red, covered in scales and sporting a pretty punk rock fin, the former professional dog-paddler becomes a mindless, powerful brute, although luckily he’s given to fainting spells. Boiling water activated his change, and another dose of hot water from a hotel shower returns him to normal. This is also about the time we discover that one of the reporters from Women’s Lib Magazine was clearly written and drawn as a black woman but colored Caucasian. Well, one step forward, I guess …

Oh, so they're in Jersey.
Since it’s a binary switch flipped by heat, it takes a laser to cause Paul to turn back into his big red idiot phase. The laser is the property of Hell-Blazer, a kabuki-faced Gene Simmons-a-like who busts into Paul’s hotel room and threatens him with a gun unless Paul relents to assisting Hell-Blazer in bankrupting Paul’s father. Why, I dunno, Hell-Blazer just shows up with a plan in hand. We pick up from exposition that Hell-Blazer and Paul have a long history, with Paul having once refused a request on behalf of ‘Blazer to throw a swim meet, which I didn’t think would even register a blip on the “corrupt sports index,” but there you go. “Say it ain’t so, Shoeless Paul Sanders!” (Of course he’s shoeless; he’s a swimmer, they don’t wear shoes).

Paul rejects Hell-Blazer’s tempting yet poorly-timed offer and instead becomes a big weird monster and accidentally sets fire to the hotel (which also happens to be owned by his father, coincidence of coincidences). Saving one of the insensate Women’s Lib reporters from the flames, we leave Man-Monster as he’s confronted by a furiously angry father and a passel of trigger-happy boys in blue, loose plot threads dangling against the backdrop of a burning building …

A still from Man-Monster's MRA YouTube channel.

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