I bought this comic recently at flea market pretty much only because of the title. In general, swamp monsters and 1970s horror comics have never held much interest for me, but this was a lot more fun than I expected.
I imagine a lot of that comes down to writer Steve Gerber, who gives the story a kind of hip, tongue-in-cheek quality that keeps things lively. How else can you describe a story in which some occultists worship The Golden Brain, which falls into the swamp and emerges as a blank slate in a perfect body and joins a sort of hippy commune based on alternative energy sources. The cultists, who lost the brain during a scuffle with the Man-Thing, are ruled by a guy name Yagzan, who looks a lot like Richard Nixon. (And yes, there’s a bit of serendipity with a Nixon lookalike in an issue cover-dated with the month he resigned as president.)
There’s also a hip city radio reporter named Richard Rory, who looks a lot like Marvel’s then editor-in-chief Roy Thomas. Of course, Yagzan conjures a muck monster to fight with Man-Thing and the Man-Thing wins out, with Yagzan during to stone or something and sinking into the swamp. All of this is pretty fun, with fun art from Mike Ploog and Frank Chiaramonte and that color palette that only existed in the 1970s from Petra Goldberg.
All in all, a cool story, but there also was a great trilogy of backup tales reprinting monster tales from pre-hero Marvels drawn by Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. I get why some folks really love these little oddball gems — they’re simple and fun diversions — even though I’m not likely to spend the big bucks on Marvel Masterworks or Omnibus editions because while the art is good, the stories just remind of other versions that I think work better (even though these comics came first).
For example, the ending of Ditko’s “Ice-Monster Cometh” reminds me of the gorilla gag at the end of Trading Places, while the plot device in “Goom! The Thing from Planet X,” in which the rampaging alien turns out to be a child, falls short of many similar tales told later on in the various incarnations of Star Trek. (I’m thinking in particular of “The Squire of Gothos.”) And I can’t help but evoke in my mind the bass player for U2 when the scientist in “I Was the Invisible Man!” introduces himself as Adam Clayton.
All in all, a cool comic with a funny name.