…and to celebrate Christmas, let’s meet the last Marvel character in Brick89‘s list: Ted Sallis, better known as Man-Thing! Despite his name has been dropped by Maria Hill in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as for now the character only appeared in the horror movie dedicated to him, Man-Thing. This version of the anti-hero, portrayed by Mark Stevens, has little or nothing in common with the original material: in here, Ted Sallis is a Native American shaman trying to prevent the oil tycoon F. A. Schist to destroy the sacred land of his tribe, Dark Waters in Louisiana; killed by Schist, his body is revived by the Nexus of All Realities (the aforementioned sacred land) as a plant-monster who murders anyone enters the swamp, good or bad alike. Needless to say, the Man-Thing from the comics is completely different from this mindless monster. After this, the blog takes a brief hiatus: enjoy your holidays, see you next year!
Ted Sallis was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but he moved to New York City to study biochemistry at Empire State University. He excelled in his studies, and proved to be one of the greatest minds ever in the university; he became a professor at a very young age, and his successes attracted the attention of the US Army. Sallis was hired by the military to lead Project: Sulfur, a group of researchers whose aim was to prepare the United States for a bio-chemical war. Sallis managed to create a futuristic compound, Serum SO-2, which was actually able to make anyone immune to every known toxin, venom or armful chemical agent…but with an unpleasant side-effect, as a prolonged use transformed human beings into monsters. The Army wanted to use the SO-2 nevertheless, thinking they could have found a use also in monsters, and Sallis was about to let them do it…until a friend of his, Saint-Cloude, convinced him to listen to his conscience rather than to his thirst for glory, and prompted him to denounce the officers. Sallis did as he was told and the project was shut down before any serum was produced: thankful, he realised he had fallen in love with Saint-Claude, and proposed to her…only to be refused, as the girl saw the many differences between them. Alone and without his job, Ted Sallis came back to university as a teacher, avoiding all human contact and preferring books over people…until he met Ellen Brandt, a particularly brilliant student, and he got smitten over her. Sallis started an affair with the girl, and the two escaped together and married in secret. Such an intellect wasn’t meant to be wasted, however, and S.H.I.E.L.D. contacted Sallis, asking him to be a part of Dr. Wilma Calvin‘s team along with Dr. Barbara Morse and Dr. Paul Allen: the team was assigned to Project: Gladiator, a top secret research aimed to recreate Abraham Erskine‘s Super-Soldier Serum. Sallis agreed, but with one condition: he would have worked separated from his colleagues. S.H.I.E.L.D. accepted, and sent Sallis to a secret lab in the Everglades, where the scientist could work alone. Well, where he sould have, according to security protocols: he brought Ellen.
Sallis dedicated completely to his work, and he used his SO-2 as a starting point to develop the Super-Soldier Serum. Of course, S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t the only organization interested in this project, as other shadier and meaner ones wanted it to succeed as well: AIM, for example. Embittered for being neglected by her husband, Ellen betrayed Ted and became a spy for the Advanced Idea Mechanics: when Sallis was informed that AIM was possibly already infiltrated in the project, he memorized the formula of the (allegedly) succesful result of his work and destroyed every evidence of it. After that, Ellen and AIM struck: they ambushed Sallis, who made an escape in the nearby swamp. Not sure he was able to leave his attackers behind, Ted injected himself with the only sample of the serum, sure it would have worked…what followed proved he was wrong. During the chase, Sallis lost control of his car, and ended up in the swamp…a really peculiar one, as it was imbued with arcane magic power. The serum in his blood, mixed with the mystic energies of the place, transformed Ted Sallis into a massive monster whose body was composed of the vegetation of the swamp, a creature in which the scientist’s mind and memory were rapidly fading away. Emerging from the water, the monster, a “man-thing”, confronted Ellen and the AIM agents: he slew the latters, and when he touched a terrified Ellen half of her face burnt in contact with an acid the creature that once was her husband secreted, and that reacted to strong emotions like fear. The Man-Thing started wandering the swamp, making it his home, and during a brief meeting with sorceress Jennifer Kale he understood his true purpose: the swamp itself was home to the Nexus of All Realities, an intersection of all dimensions and all possible realities that gave access to them all…and the Man-Thing was destined to be its guardian. The peculiarity of the place exposed it to a number of threats, not only AIM, still trying to learn Sallis’ secret, but also multi-dimensional foes like Thog the Netherspawn, the Cult of Entropy or the Foolkiller; with nothing of Ted Sallis living inside him anymore, the Man-Thing was one with the swamp he protected, a mindless monster completely dedicated to his sole purpose of existence.
Ted Sallis used to be an extremely intelligent and somewhat arrogant man, a misanthropist who preferred solitude and study over human relations; as the Man-Thing, he barely possesses a mind at all, he has no reason, no thought, and nothing similar to a long-term memory. Man-Thing has no emotions, but he reacts to others’ ones: any emotion causes him to get curious and to observe from afar, but strong and violent ones prompts him to attack. As the guardian of the Nexus of All Realities, he possesses superhuman strength augmentable according to necessity (he’s been able to fight to a standstill even the Hulk), he’s virtually invulnerable, since his semi-solid body is nearly impenetrable to regular arm, and he can regenerate completely using the swamp’s vegetation; in presence of violent emotions, his body secretes a strong sulfuric acid that burns everyone coming in contact with it. A formidable guardian for one of the most important places in the multiverse, the Man-Thing terrifies whatever evildoer tries to exploit the Nexus, and consumes him with his acid…for whoever knows fear, burns at the touch of the Man-Thing!