Appearing in "The Cool Dark: Part 1 of 4"
- Man-Thing (Ted Sallis) (First appearance)
- Digger (First appearance)
- A.I.M. (Behind the scenes)
Races and Species:
Synopsis for "The Cool Dark: Part 1 of 4"
Graphic horror-style retelling of Man-Thing's origin, ala Tower of Shadows. Narrated by Digger.
Ted Sallis is a scientist working on a means to reproduce the Super-Soldier Serum - the process once used during World War II to transform Steve Rogers into Captain America. He is stationed in a small cabin in the swamplands of Citrusville in the Florida panhandle. Also in attendance is Ted's bride-to-be Ellen Brandt, and his research assistant Eric Schist.
After putting in some long hours, Ted steps outside to enjoy a cigar. He hears strange noises coming from the adjacent cabin and goes to investigate. Kicking down the door, he is horrified to find three grotesque mutations chained to the floor. Eric Schist enters the room and confesses that he has been performing his own experiments on the side. He further reveals that Ted and he are not truly working for the United States Government, but rather they are secretly employed by A.I.M.. Enraged at being used as a pawn, Ted attacks Schist and dashes him across the jaw with a desk lamp. He races back to his own cabin and begins filling all of his project samples into a duffel bag. Ellen enters the cabin behind him and levels a gun to his head. Ted learns that Ellen is also an agent of A.I.M., but moreover, she has also been having an affair with Eric Schist.
Holding tight to his bag, Ted leaps out the window, but Ellen fires several shots into his back. He stumbles out into the swamp and begins to drown. Desperate, Ted feels that his experimental serum may be the only thing that might save his life. He drinks the formula then passes out at the bottom of the swamp. The chemicals from the formula interact with the local vegetation transforming Sallis into a mindless, shambling swamp monster that men will come to know as the Man-Thing!
The Man-Thing rises from the swamp and instinctively walks towards Eric's cabin. He frees the three chained "swampies", then continues his search for Eric and Ellen. The Man-Thing bursts through the wall of the cabin and grabs Schist, shattering his spine across his muck-encrusted knee. He then turns towards Ellen and grabs her face. Brandt's fear prompts a chemical reaction in the Man-Thing's body and his hand secretes an acid that savagely burns Ellen's face.
- This limited series is published under Marvel's MAX imprint and is suggested for mature readers.
- First appearance of the "Swampies" - a group of mutated test subjects created by Eric Schist. This is new information and was not originally part of the Man-Thing's canonical origin.
- Artist Nick Percival illustrates the framing sequence for this issue only.
- A.I.M. is an acronym which stands for Advanced Idea Mechanics - a cabal of criminal scientists who once had close ties to HYDRA.
- Appearances to the contrary, Ellen Brandt survives her initial encounter with the Man-Thing.
- This issue is one of the few occurrences where the Man-Thing actually makes vocal noises. He is only capable of making muted grunting noises, but traditionally the Man-Thing makes no articulate sounds whatsoever. Another instance takes place during the Daydreamers limited series wherein the Man-Thing actually speaks.
- Savage Tales #1 (1st appearance of Man-Thing and Ellen Brandt)
- Tower of Shadows #1 (1st appearance of Digger)