The shambling, remorseless creature known as the Man-Thing may seem like a typical monster-of-the-week, but in reality, he’s a big deal. Furthermore, rather than being a villain, Man-Thing actually carried his own solo comic for years in the 1970s, in which writer Steve Gerber put his own unique spin on the character and turned him into a cult classic.
The origin of the Man-Thing is simple: a scientist by the name of Dr. Ted Sallis, working on a secret chemical experiment in the Florida Everglades (later retconned to be another attempt at replicating the infamous super-soldier serum), is pursued by bad guys seeking to steal the formula. The chase ends with Sallis crashing his car into a swamp, where mysterious forces combine with the chemicals he’d been working on to permanently transform Sallis into the bizarre entity known as the Man-Thing.
Man-Thing is a slow-moving creature with a penchant for thwarting various criminal schemes, despite the fact that he has very little if any conscious mind left to speak of. Gerber created the character’s classic tagline “whoever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing’s touch,” which aptly sums up another of Man-Thing’s abilities — to sense and feed off of fear and other emotions in nearby people. Good people don’t tend to fear Man-Thing, as they sense the innate decency within him, but wrongdoers react with terror — and when they do so, his touch (quite literally) burns their flesh.
Lest you think Man-Thing is but a mere swamp creature though, think again. He actually plays a shockingly prominent role in Marvel’s Multiverse, because it turns out that the Everglades are the Nexus of All Realities — and Man-Thing is the guardian of that Nexus.