Episode 128, “Even In Death…”

X-Men #144, April 1981
“Even In Death…”
Written by Chris Claremont, Pencils by Brent Anderson, Inks by Josef Rubinstein, Lettered by Tom Orzechowski, Colors by Glynis Wein, Edited by Louise Jones, Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter.

It Is Just One Of Those Things!

In Which We Learn That A D’Spayre Family Reunion Will Always Run Out Of Apostrophes, That As Far As Cyclops Is Concerned The Color Of Money Is Ruby Red, And That For A Demonic Incarnation Of The Darkest Human Emotions, D’Spayre Sure Tosses A Lot Of Evil Spaghetti At The Wall Hoping Something Sticks!

If Scott Wants To Get Ahead In The Competitive World of Deep Sea Fishing He’ll “Put In” The Extra Hours The Boss Requested!

The big two comic companies each has its own shambling, slime monster. Marvel has its Man-Thing (above, left), while DC Comics has its very similarly named Swamp Thing (above right).  Their origin stories are nearly identical, brilliant scientists who get dosed with their own chemicals before falling in a swamp, so the question often arises: who stole the idea from whom?

Man-Thing is a creation of Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and artist Gray Morrow, first appearing in the May 1971 Savage Tales #1. We should add that Stan Lee is credited with the Man-Thing name, which is really no credit at all as far as I am concerned. Swamp Thing sprung from the mind of Len Wein along with the artist Bernie Wrightson, first appearing in the July 1971 House of Secrets #92. Man-Thing has the earlier publication date, so Man-Thing came first, correct? Not so fast. Because it took 3-4 months to actually get a comic published in 1971, May and July are too close in time for anyone at DC to have read the Man-Thing issue and turned around and made their own version. The dates suggest the two shambling mounds were created basically at the same time.

Both the modern “Things” are actually homages (rip-offs?) of the golden-age character, The Heap, which first appeared in December 1942. The Heap was a regular character in Airboy comics throughout the 40s into the early 50s.

Above left is the actual first image of the The Heap from 1941, even though it says he “Returns”. Turns out Roy Thomas was a HUGE Heap fan and had been talking up revival/homage ideas all over town, including encouraging the publication of The Heap by the small publisher Skywald. Skywald put a Heap in their Psycho comic in March 1971, months before Man or Swamp managed to Thing their way into the world. It seems likely that all this excited Heap talk from Thomas put the idea in the air. He clearly talked it over with Gerry Conway, who wrote the original Man-Thing story, and Gerry clearly discussed it with his roommate, Len Wein, creator of Swamp thing. It that context it less surprising that they all successfully pitched the same story at the same time. As a final note, Mad Magazine published a Heap parody in 1953 (above right), where they specifically refer to their Heap as a Swamp Thing, possibly planting that name deep in a young Len Wein’s brain. As you can see, giving creator credit in the rotting swamp monster game is as muddy as the Things themselves.

In the Florida swamp, if the heat don’t kill ya, the humidity will!

Or the cancer.  That will definitely get you.

If you continue to experience a burning sensation 4 hours after a Man-Thing, you should seek the advice of a physician.

The kids at this school can be so mean.

So Cyclops’ uncontrollable, killer eye blasts have somehow left the felt perfectly intact.

Every Florida airboat also comes with a constant loop of the Miami Vice theme song.

Why would they store small boys right next to the parachutes? Crap.

Runway models are getting too dang skinny!

Scott, remember the felt.

Giant pickles scare me, too.

Damn it Scott, you had one job. Stay in the panels. Even Man-Thing managed it and he is animate slime!

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