At least this comic has a sense of humor about itself.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Javier Saltares’s “Dead of Night Featuring Man-Thing” #3 (which I’ll just go ahead and call “Dead of Night” #3) tells the story of a group of intrepid videographers on a “Hunt for the Man-Thing!” (emphasis theirs). Two frat boys and their babes, a digital video camera, a swamp, and a bunch of fleshy-headed mutants add up to a less than potent mixture of horror, which is what this comic is ostensibly supposed to be. Is it a horror comic if it’s not scary? Is it a horror-comedy if it’s not funny? I don’t suppose so. So, I’m not sure what it is.
The art by Javier Saltares is serviceable, but he’s done far more dynamic work in the past. His Tom Grindberg-lite stylings in “Dead of Night” #3 don’t do much to sell either the supposed horror or supposed comedy. It’s not bad work, but page after page of agape mouths and startled eyes don’t help tell a very interesting tale about man’s search for swamp monster. And I’m not sure what the point of this series is anyway. I’m at a disadvantage not having read the first two issues, I suppose, but based on what I see here, these four protagonists have been newly introduced for this single story. And the cover of the issue is a parody of an EC Comics horror comic, so maybe that’s the effect Aguirre-Sacasa is going for with the story. There’s even a framing sequence with a ghoulish narrator. Except, it doesn’t have the moral ambiguity of any of the EC tales or the O. Henry twists so customary in “Vault of Horror” or “Tales from the Crypt.”
Instead, it’s a story about a bunch of college kids running from some strange creatures in the conveniently dry swampland. They panic, they scream, and they try to fight back. Man-Thing, who appears only in the story as a silent, looming presence, isn’t much more than a mysterious force of nature. Thus, the weight of the story falls on the four youthful protagonists, and they just aren’t worth reading about.
There is a bit of fun at the end of the issue which bodes well for the finale next month — some random violence that highlights the absurdity of the comic. But it’s not enough to save “Dead of Night” #3, especially with its $3.99 price tag. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen in any original Sci-Fi channel movie, except for maybe the “Preacher”-like bit in the final two pages. But who watches those Sci-Fi channel movies, anyway? So maybe you haven’t seen stuff like this before. Still, this comic probably isn’t worth picking up.