J.M. deMatteis is a great writer. Man-Thing is a classic character. The Scriers were a ret-con looking for a justification. Can this annual deliver the goods?
With annuals, you have all those extra pages - and there's usually three choices as to what to do with them.
This one's a bit of the last two mixed together. The story is indubitably above the norm for complexity.
The original Scrier from the cult of Scriers, is returned. He's a being of great power, who originally formed the cult, but who has been absent for a very, very long time. (I should mention here that I thought the reworking of Scrier, in the final days of the Clone Story, was appealingly devious - and I think it's great to see these guys back in action.)
He drops into a meeting of modern Scriers, searching for one to be his agent in an ambitious task - to gain control of The Nexus of All Realities - currently under the protection of Ted and Ellen Sallis (as documented in the as-yet unpublished final issues of the late lamented Strange Tales).
Spider-Man gets drawn into the tangled plot, and is then launched into a sequence of alternate realities, in an indirect battle for control of the Nexus. This involves a mixture of conventional and computer-enhanced artwork, merged with earthly and cosmic story-lines.
To be completely honest, I didn't fully understand exactly what was going on here. I'm not fully familiar with the background of the Man-Thing, and the subtleties of the differences between the human and cosmic aspects of the personalites kind of left me behind. But, it's still a good story... and one that does motivate me to see if I can pick up a few issues of the highly-rated Man-Thing title, and possibly even some original Strange Tales, to see if I can figure out exactly what was happening.
That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the story. There's plenty there to keep the reader interested on the earthly level. Peter Parker and Spider-Man is recast into some interesting situations, worth of deMetteis' creative pen. This is a story which has a little something for everyone.
Those who are less familiar with Man-Thing and the Nexus (myself among them) are probably going to struggle a little with this. I'm guessing that long-time Marvel fans are going to love it. Am I right?
To me, this was a 3.5 web effort. I suspect that old-timers would rate it more highly. It certainly appears well-constructed, and the graphic art guys put some hours in. If you're a serious Marvel Fan, I think you'd want this on the shelf.