Ted Sallis, was attempting to recreate the Super-Soldier Serum that created Captain America. However, he was betrayed by his lover, Ellen Brandt, and Sallis had to flee from A.I.M. agents, who saw their potential of such a formula for their own evil ends. He injects himself with the serum, but after crashing in a swamp and apparently drowning is transformed into a swamp creature through a combination of his formula and, as later explained, magical forces extant in the area. Sallis' mind was apparently lost, although on rare occasions he could briefly return to consciousness within his monstrous form, and even to his human form such as when he fought Ben Grimm, who took the appropriation of his own nickname a little too personally.
For the most part, Man-Thing has been left alone, although there have always been unwary passersby who have stumbled across him, usually to their own destruction, if of course they aren't sucked into the Nexus of All Realities - or even deposited in the swamp by the nexus, as Howard the Duck was.
For a solitary creature, Man-Thing has been quite the team player; he's served time on The Defenders, The Legion of Monsters, The Thunderbolts and The Daydreamers, where he helped Franklin Richards and Howard the Duck escape Black Tom Cassidy after the events of Onslaught. He is surprisingly good friends with Howard the Duck, Beverly Switzler and Jennifer Kale.
Major Story Arcs
The Man-Thing has played a role in several story arcs of cosmic import. For instance, after the Watcher
sent the Molecule Man
to another dimension, his original body died and he put his consciousness in a new "son" with the same personality and powers. This "son" of the Molecule Man found his way back to Earth at the Nexus of Realities. He ran into the Man-Thing and the Thing
and transformed them both back to their human selves. Later they battled him and knocked his wand (which at that point was the focus of his power) out of his hand, defeating him but also turning them back into their normal selves.
Later, Molecule Man was using his wand to possess a young girl in the swamp, and through her was planning to start down another evil path of destruction. However, the Man-Thing knocked the wand from her hand, causing her to revert to her normal self, and then picked up the wand himself. Since the Man-Thing is mindless, the Molecule Man was unable to possess him, and his plans were averted, at least for a time.
The Man-Thing was also attracted to the activities of Victorius
and the Entropic Man
, when the former had possession of the A.I.M. Cosmic Cube
. Victorius put the Cube down for a short time, and the Man-Thing picked it up. He used it (intentionally or subconsciously) to turn Victorius and the Entropic Man to crystal, which then fed the nearby plant life with life-giving energy. When the Man-Thing went near the crystal, it turned him partly human again, but since he had no real conscious thought, he didn't really notice and walked away, slowly reverting to normal.
1997 'Strange Tales' imprint solo title
In Man-Thing's short-lived solo title from 1997 within Marvel's likewise short-lived "Strange Tales" banner, shared with a brief run of "Werewolf by Night", Man-Thing is reunited with his estranged wife, Ellen Sallis. Throughout the title he encounters Dr. Strange, Howard the Duck, Devil Slayer and Namor the Sub-Mariner, and battles a strange villain Mr. Termineus who hatches a plot to destroy the nexus that never comes to fruition as the series was canceled so harshly that the final 2 issues would never see print, and the story would be left forever in limbo. Series writer J.M. DeMatteis would get to sorta-kinda revisit some of the aspects of this story in a Spider Man & Man-Thing 1998 annual which vaguely ties up the fate of Ted & Ellen Sallis. He would also later introduce a villain in his run on DC's The Specter, Monsieur Stigmonius, who is strikingly similar to Mr. Termineus.
While reassembling the Thunderbolts, Hank Pym explained to Luke Cage how his new method of transport would work. He explained how the Man-Thing was able to teleport almost anywhere and that without this the he would be scheduled to be destroyed. Luke Cage confronts Man-Thing and asks if they’ll be able to get along and the two shake on it.
After a staged attack by Baron Helmut Zero, who was really the Fixer, the Man-Thing teleports the Thunderbolts to clean up a group of trolls who escaped the fallen Asgard. They are attacked on arrival and Songbird is sent flying towards Man-Thing who just stands there and does nothing. The trolls are taken out and the team finds that one turns out to be an Asgardian girl who has grown up with the trolls.
On the next Thunderbolts mission, Man-Thing teleports the team to a cave, where teams of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.N have gone missing in search of Terrigen crystals. Upon arriving to the cave, Man-Thing takes off in his own direction and Mach V follows after him. The rest of the team find the missing teams have been mutated into monstrous creatures with a burning touch. Each member goes down until only Crossbones, Man-Thing and Ghost (controlling Mach V’s suit) remain. They regroup and prepare for the monsters. Crossbones holds off the waves with a chain gun while Ghost makes use of Mach V’s arsenal. Moonstone comes to just in time to see the jaws of a creature about to come down, when Man-Thing comes in to save the day by literally tearing it into pieces. After the rest of the team comes to, Man-Thing proceeds to carry out Moonstone out in his arms.
After a “scared straight” visit from the Avengers Academy, Man-Thing teleports the team to New York City on the orders of Luke Cage. He calls them in to assist in his situation in Shadowland, not an official mission. The team search through the sewers for the Hand’s hideout when Man-Thing is run through with 2 katanas. The Hand storm the Thunderbolts at first, but Juggernaut, Crossbones and Man-Thing are fairing okay. With Man-Thing burning up ninjas left & right Crossbones remarks “Guess ninjas do know fear.”
Slowly the Thunderbolts are overpowered by the Hand. While fighting a ninja armed with a staff ending in a chain and scythe, Man-Thing is dismembered. Moonstone becomes enraged and takes out his assailant. Ghost attempts to pick up his head (but is too weak) and says he will re-grow once they get out of the sewers. Moonstone happily takes his head. As a result, he seems to have developed some sort of infatuation with, or at least a loyalty to, Moonstone, as a holographic image of her motivated him to lead Luke Cage, Thor, Iron Man and Steve Rogers back to their universe after an escape attempt by Ghost, Juggernaut, and Crossbones lead them to an alternate dimension.
After the attempted breakout, Crossbones is removed from the team and Hyperion is brought in as his replacement. While being introduced to the team, Hyperion meets Man-Thing & doesn't seem to understand why the need him to teleport when he could carry them all. The team is sent to Yokohama, Japan to stop rampaging monsters from Monster Island. Hyperion takes point to show off for the team while Man-Thing takes his usual approach. The Thunderbolts seem to fall one by one until Songbird is left holding a knocked out Moonstone and holding back a monster. Songbird is then knocked out by a red and yellow blur that looked to be Hyperion. Man-Thing saw it all and Hyperion turned around to see him. Hyperion shouts "You Don't Judge me, Snotpile. I'm King Hyperion!" and then blasts him with his eye-beams.
Man-Thing's involvement with the Thunderbolts are questioned by the board behind the T-Bolts. Jennifer Kale, a sorceress, also a friend of Man-Thing's, breaks into the Raft and transports Man-Thing to his home, the swamp. Man-Thing takes care of the dimension intruders, and goes back to his artificial swamp in the Raft. Jennifer Kale then tells him that he is being used like a machine, but when Luke Cage and Songbird explain to her how important Man-Thing is, she leaves, and is happy for her friend. The board then decides to keep Man-Thing on the team.
Man-Thing teleports Luke Cage & Dr. Strange to the Valley of Shandor-Rah to find Satana and recruit her to the Thunderbolts. They encounter huge rock and ice elemental monsters on their path to Satana's hideout. Upon reaching her, she is reluctant to join the team until she is told that Man-Thing (to whom she refers to as "Vagornus Koth") is already on the team. They return to the Raft and Santana proceeds to inscribe the "Worldsong" into the Man-Thing much to Luke Cage's dismay.
Man-Thing teleports the team to their next mission in Stuttgart, Germany where Gothenvald Castle has appeared out of nowhere. The team is attacked by Baron Gothenvald 's demonic forces until he is able to make an escape. The Avengers call in with an emergency before they can investigate further and Man-Thing takes the team now to Najar, Iraq where they meet up with the new Thunderbolt recruits to fight the reanimated corpse's of the local villagers. They clear the village but are then called back to the Raft for an emergency. The Raft has been destroyed by the Serpent's hammer which has also possessed the Juggernaut. Man-Thing returns the team to the Raft as they attempt to catch escapees.
With the Raft partially destroyed, Man-Thing is moved to somewhere outside of Chicago, IL with Ghost, Mach V, Moonstone, Songbird and Satana. Satana reveals that her inscription has helped Man-Thing evolve into his "next level". Man-Thing & the team come upon a beach being overrun by carnivorous amphibious creatures. Moonstone is about to be bitten when Man-Thing comes to her aid. He also begins absorbing all the bodies he begins to pile up and then grows into a giant sized Man-Thing before bursting into flames. Satana pulls his consciousness bulb from the ashes so that it can be reborn in the remains of Thunderbolts tower.
Fear Itself: Fearsome Four
During the events of Fear Itself, Man-Thing goes mad due to everyone's fear running wild. He goes on a rampage and starts killing innocents. Howard the Duck recruits She-Hulk, Nighthawk and Frankenstein's Monster to stop Man-Thing. Man-Thing uses the Nexus of All Realities to transform the Fearsome Four into monstrous versions of themselves. They attack Man-Thing but eventually turn on each other and Man-Thing is able to make his escape. As he escapes the effects wear off the Fearsome Four and they continue their search for Man-Thing. They catch up to Man-Thing who is being attacked by Psycho-Man. Psycho-Man takes out the Fearsome Four but Man-Thing comes to their aid. The Nexus then drops a New Fantastic Four consisting of different versions of the Hulk, Wolverine, Ghost Rider and Spider-Man. Psycho-Man manipulates them into attacking the Fearsome Four as Howard the Duck reveals his secret weapon, the No-Thing (given to him by Man-Thing to kill him). He uses the device on Psycho-Man and the New Fantastic Four but it fails against Man-Thing. Man-Thing uses the Nexus to send all of the Fearsome Four to their biggest fears and as they each overcome them Howard the Duck is able to talk Man-Thing into releasing his own fears which ends his rampage.
Powers & Abilities
Man-Thing is practically invincible. He can be destroyed, but as long as there is vegetation he grows back his body, think Healing Factor. He has super-strength. It is unknown how strong he actually is because he is always shown displaying different levels of strength. Man-Thing also has the ability to teleport (in a sense) to different regions of the world through Nexus-points. He is very durable because his body is made of vegetation, so most things just go right through him.
He can breathe under water. He can ooze past objects, for example, lock him behind bars and he doesn't need strength to break free. He can simply just walk through the bars. The last of his powers consist of detecting emotions. Happiness, courage, love, etc. Make him feel calm and reserved, positive feelings. Negative feelings, like hatred, anger, and fear. Make him go ballistic, it hurts him. So he secretes this ooze that can burn almost anything, including Luke Cage's skin.
He also secretes a liquid that acts as an anti-venom to this burning ooze. Man-Thing is also capable of controlling The Nexus of All Realities and using its unlimited cosmic power against his adversaries, making him even more dangerous while he is frenzied.
In Fear Itself, Man-Thing is seen at a higher level of ability. As fear spreads against the planet, Man-Things power begins to increase, first releasing him from his bond to the Nexus Of All Realities and allowing him to teleport wherever he wishes at will, and later his power grows so great that he is able to manipulate reality on a very detailed scale, including selectively on individuals themselves turning them into alternate reality counterparts of themselves.
Man-Thing is one of the few beings shown to be naturally immune to the Marvel Zombies plague.
In What If? v2 #11, Susan Storm turns into The Man-Thing. In #26 of the same volume, Ted Sallis retains his own mind, but is swiftly immolated by his own fear.
Sallis' origins are similar to his counterpart in Earth-616. He has only appeared twice; once in Ultimate Team-Up #10 and as a cameo in Ultimate Fantastic Four #7
in this reality, Doctor Strange is the Man-Thing.
Man-Thing unknowingly helped A.R.M.O.R. kill a zombie during the Marvel Zombies ' spread of the Hunger Gospel. He will soon be in the new line up of the Midnight Sons. As a member, he was brought away from his swamp by Jennifer Kale. Attacked Dormammu during her meeting with him. He would later help the Midnight Sons look around outside the infected area that was being attacked by a deadly undead storm cloud which Man-Thing did not feel no pain from due to being connected to the Earth. However he ends up in a fight with super powered zombie that was a combination of three other super humans - Ogre, Razor Wire and Lightning Fist. During the fight, the super zombie would have the upper hand of removing Man-Thing from the Earth and getting melted away by the undead rain storm which would end up killing him. Jennifer Kale who watched the fight through his eyes felt strongly responsible for his death. However, after being exposed back to the earth and being a part of the primordial ooze, Man-Thing comes back to life and kills the super zombie with his burning death touch.
A Man-Thing film produced by Lionsgate Studios was directed by Brett Leonard and written by Hans Rodionoff. It premiered on the U.S. Sci-Fi Channel, under the Sci Fi Pictures label, on April 30, 2005. An uncut version of the film was released on DVD on June 14, 2005.
A Man-Thing action figure was released in the series 8 line of Marvel Legends action figures.