Greg Pak's Centaur Crossing 2: Mantlo's INCREDIBLE Legacy
I love Mantlo's work for its epic scope, unabashed emotionalism, and complete embrace of the trippiest ideas. He first blew my mind with The Micronauts when I was 11 years old. I remember a conversation with a teacher in which I confidently ranked Micronauts penciller Michael Golden with Michelangelo and noted that I'd learned the world "sibilant" from the comic book. An added bonus? Centaurs! Feast your eyes on the cover of Micronauts #11, the awesomeness of which I still can’t fully comprehend.
When it comes to my Hulk run, Mantlo’s deep understanding of the fundamental tragedy of the Hulk and his supporting cast laid the foundations for much of what I explored.
And now, a bonus list of mighty Mantlo homages in my Hulk run:
One of Mantlo’s most beloved creations is an insectivorid jokester named Bug who debuted in Micronauts #1. Bug had a literal verbal tic — a periodic "tik" punctuating his speech. In Incredible Hulk #92, I introduced Miek, an insectivorid underdog whose speech was punctuated by "kik"s.
When people got killed in Micronauts, they'd frequently sign off by screaming "Gleeeaaargh!" I loved that as a kid — it struck me even then as wildly improbable but nonetheless awesome. In Incredible Hulk #96, I had an imperial spy check out with a ridiculously oversized "Gleeeaaargh!"
I loved Mantlo's depiction of the warrior-king Acroyear bonding with the Worldmind of his home planet and literally raising mountains to smash the evil Baron Karza's invading armies in Micronauts #10. The tectonically based Old Power of the Oldstrong of Sakaar in "Planet Hulk” is a bit of a tip of the hat to Acroyear’s planet-bonding.
This one happened by chance. In Incredible Hulk #92, I introduced Hiroim, an "Unbound Shadow." Later we reveal he's an exiled priest of the Shadow People. Hence, a Shadow Priest. While rereading the first 12 issues of Micronauts a couple of years ago, I was reminded that the holy men in that story are also called "Shadow Priests."
In Incredible Hulk #299-300, Mantlo told the story of a mindless Hulk fighting half the Marvel Universe while rampaging through New York City. Of course the entire fight was the spiritual precursor to “World War Hulk,” and Mantlo’s sympathetic depiction of Dr. Strange inspired me to use the Master of Mystic Arts multiple times as the Hulk’s best friend in the superhero community.
But I hold an especially dear spot in my heart for the storyline because of the brilliant use Mantlo makes of a giant adamantium sculpture of the Hulk.
Almost two years earlier, during the celebratory ceremony in Incredible Hulk #279, the Hulk is presented with a heroic adamantium sculpture of himself created by Alicia Masters.
In Incredible Hulk #299, the mindless, rampaging Hulk attacks that same sculpture, and in #300 he attacks Thor with it. It’s a great, sad, ironic moment in which this symbol of the Hulk’s heroism turns into a weapon of his savagery.
Somewhere in my mental dreamspace, that adamantium sculpture stands on a planet of living stone, flanked by an honor guard of proud centaurs and solemn Shadow Priests.
And it’s gazing down at us with Bill Mantlo’s smiling eyes.
And now a few words from Mike Mantlo:
First off, I send out a big THANK YOU to everyone that has helped support Bill over these past 19 years (!). Every donation, no matter how big or small, and every card or letter is greatly appreciated. Bill's condition remains the same (he suffers severe cognitive impairments, anger, and depression), and these factors keep him very much isolated from "the outside world." Aside from my visits, and the kindness of my beautiful wife and some of the attendants at the nursing home/rehabilitation facility he resides in, his contact with other human beings is virtually non-existent. But the support and encouragement of fans, and industry professionals like yourself, helps to bring a little ray of sunlight into his dark and dreary days. When I (or my wife) engage Bill in conversation, his spirit emerges and is as strong and pure as it ever was! So, once again, I can't thank ALL of you enough!! I strongly believe in the power of practicing random acts of kindness, and with that belief I hope that ALL of your kindnesses will be returned to you many, many times over!
Cards, letters or donations to Bill Mantlo can be sent to:
26364 East Pintail Road
Long Neck, DE 19966
Please make out any checks to “Michael Mantlo” — Bill’s legal guardian.
Greg Pak writes Alpha Flight and Herc (with Fred Van Lente), Red Skull Incarnate, and Astonishing X-Men for Marvel and Dead Man's Run for Aspen. For more about his work, visit www.gregpak.com, www.twitter.com/gregpak, and www.gplus.to/gregpak.
@ 2011 Pak Man Productions. All rights reserved.More from Greg Pak:
- GREG PAK's Centaur Crossing 1: An Introduction
- Pak & Van Lente On the Now-Ongoing ALPHA FLIGHT's Future
- Writer's Workshop #11: Greg Pak's Path From Film to HULKS