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Quote1.png Explain? Mary, look around you! It's not just me! Take soldier Jim, here, he just cam back from a war of attrition. That's where the whole fight is to see which side can kill more people! It's sick! And here at home -- we dump chemicals into our waters -- poison the fish -- then we eat 'em and poison ourselves! That's suicide-- but it's also our way of life! We really are out to destroy ourselves! Quote2.png
Holden Crane

Appearing in "A Question of Survival!"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:


  • Ralph Sorrell (First and only known appearance; dies)
  • Snake (First and only known appearance; dies)

Other Characters:

Races and Species:



Synopsis for "A Question of Survival!"

Ralph Sodell is on his way home after having a few too many drinks, causing him to get into a car crash with a passenger bus. Both vehicles crash into the nearby swamp. The entire accident is viewed by the Man-Thing, who silently watches the events unfold. Most people on the bus die, while Ralph survives. Among the few survivors from the bus are Mary Brown, soldier Jim Arsdale, student Holden Crane, and a young boy named Kevin Kennerman. When Kevin is pinned in the wreckage of the bus, Holden refuses to help. Holden claims being "against life", causing friction among the survivors.

The Man-Thing arrives, lifts up the wreckage, and frees the boy to the shock and awe of the other survivors. The muck-monster returns to the swamp without interacting with them. Jim gets into an altercation with Holden over Holden's lack of regard for the injured boy. Jim also picks a fight with Ralph Sorrell, when the survivors learn that Ralph was drinking before the accident.

With Kevin needing medical attention, the group decides to walk to the nearest town and get help. Jim is a local and is familiar with this area of Florida. He tells the others that his home town is on the other side of the swamp. He cautions them, however, of the danger of going deeper into the swamp. Everyone agrees that the dangerous path the fastest way to get help, and they decide to take it anyway.

Along the way, the group come to arguments over their different belief systems, and values. All the while facing various dangers inherent to the swamp. When a snake threatens them, the Man-Thing is there to save them. Eventually, Jim has enough with Holden's constant tirades against the military and begins beating on the boy. The young man does not actually fight back. Mary manages to pull Jim off before he kills Holden.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Kale has finished another date with her boyfriend Jaxon. Jennifer is suddenly struck with a horrible vision and passes out with a scream.

Back in the swamp, the survivors of the crash make it to the edge of a construction site owned by F.A. Schist. Ralph suddenly pulls a gun out on the others. He does not want to go to jail for the accident he causes. So, he has decided to eliminate all the surviving witnesses. He shoots and kills Holden and Jim, before the Man-Thing appears. Man-Thing disarms the killer. Ralph turns to flee, but finds a flame thrower on the construction site. Ralph decides to kill the monster and and tries to burn the Man-Thing with the flame thrower. His attack is ineffectual, and the Man-Thing manages to grab him. Ralph's own fear causes him to be burned to death.

The construction workers who camped out at the site arrive to see what all the commotion is. They find Mary, Kevin and the Man-Thing. Mary realizes that the monster has saved her life, and thanks the Man-Thing. The muck-monster naturally gives no response and indifferently returns to the swamp that serve as his home.


  • In this story, Jim Arsdale is a veteran of the Vietnam War who still serves in the army. Holden Crane is a student with radical beliefs, holds the army in contempt, and voices his opposition to the war. This causes the conflict between the characters. The story was published in 1973, while the War was still ongoing. The United States ended their direct military involvement in the War in August, 1973, while the war continued until the Fall of Saigon in April, 1975.
  • Much of the story depicts the 1970s dispute on how to treat the Vietnam War and its veterans, which was dividing American society. Holden represents the radical counter-culture of the era and its disillusionment with American society. It is unclear how this story has been affected by the Sliding Timescale.
  • The vision of Jennifer Kale presumably has something to do with the machinations of Thog. According to other stories featuring the character, her emerging psychic powers were causing her to sense a threat to reality caused by Thog. Jennifer next goes on a mission against Thog in Fear #19 (December, 1973).
  • This is only the second appearance of Jaxon, Jennifer Kale's boyfriend. He previously had a more substantial role in Fear #13 (April, 1973). Jaxon is next seen in Man-Thing (Vol. 2) #4 (May, 1980).

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