4 out of 5
The “being greedy is bad!” moral is very slight – about as slight as its one-note villain and his name: F.A. Schist, so at least that’s a match – but thanks to Mike Ploog’s gorgeously droopy, moopy art, and Steve’s creative path into the story, it’s still top tier stuff, with the added dash of Manny tragedy.
Essentially, Schist is still all ga-ga for swamp draining, though now he’s refocused on finding the fountain of youth, which he’s sure is located therein. It just so happens that Man-Thing has found it, actually, after being beset upon by some conquistadors who were trying to take him there anyway. This could be played off as usual Steve silliness, but he keeps the tone in tact, and this scuffle is quite tense as a result, leaving us wondering exactly what the plan is when Manny is led back to their home – a Shangri-La – and its rainbow-colored water-spewing central fountain.
The ‘fountain of youth,’ for Man-Thing, seemingly has the potential to turn him human again, which is interrupted by Schist’s scheming and money-grubbing. There are some interesting quirks drawing this all together, and if not for how eye-rollingly the “I guess wanting money was my downfall” lessons were delivered, it’d be a perfect tale. That said, it’s also heartening to be rid of Schist with this story, since he was such a one note baddie.