Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pull List Review: Infernal Man-Thing #2

Sometimes a series finds just the right combination of writer and artist(s) to tell its story, and Infernal Man-Thing is one of the strongest examples of that I've come across in years. Kevin Nowlan's grasp of Steve Gerber's mind-bending script is phenomenal, and the resulting artwork is as disturbing as it is hilarious as it is gorgeous. While this is true on every page, I was most struck by it in the panel where Feebo, the pro-social alien, blows his brains out. Feebo and his back-up band are all done in the style of a child's cartoon, but just a shade or two darker than anything you'd actually find on TV. Yet the inside of Feebo's head, as it explodes outward, is as realistic and disturbing as can be. So, too, is the fear and horror on the faces of Feebo's friends, and the excruciating sadness and pain from Feebo himself. The ultimate effect is a panel that simultaneously amuses and hurts to see. Which is a good way to describe the whole of this series.

Because there is a lot of humor here, mixed in with the darkness. Mindy the Tree, despite being a bit one-note at first, is exceedingly funny in her cheery reactions to Brian's emotional strife. And when Man-Thing arrives and he and Brian embark their Star-Trek-inspired joint hallucination, it adds a lightness to the sad, gruesome reality of both characters' insanity. And this book is, first and foremost, an exploration of insanity. An empath meets a man who is at the edge of his mental and emotional rope, and while neither of them has a full understanding of what's going on, each of their experiences is heightened because they are together. They're perfect for each other, just like Gerber and Nowlan, and between the four of them this title is quite a gem.

It's not your typical comicbook fare, and it's not a story which is easily understood or digested. But the creators involved have an obvious passion for the project, as Brian has for his own, so Infernal Man-Thing #2 sucks you in and grips you tightly right away. And it never lets up, and you never want it to.

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