Friday, March 02, 2007

Manhunter Madness

A while back, I noticed I was missing a few issues of Manhunter. And since I'd fallen behind in reading it, I ended up buying the trades and reading the whole series from the start. I finished last night. And it's been one thrill after another. So, let me tell you about the best comic you're probably not reading.

First, I've been reminded of how good this book is. Kate Spencer is a great character. She's flawed, she's real, and she's having the time of her life. She spent many issues trying to stop smoking. She's never gonna win World's Best Mother but she does love her son, Ramsey. She has issues with her ex. She starts out as a rookie hero and by the current issue, has gained plenty of experience, but is still new enough to be awed by Batman and Wonder Woman and thinks it's cool to be one of the costumed crimefighter gang. She's no stereotype. She says what she wants. She takes risks. She has her own code of ethics. She'll take a life if there's no other way to stop someone.

The book has one of the most eclectic supporting casts you'll find, all of whom are entertaining. There's Dylan Battles, the one-time criminal henchman of all trades who is now in the witness protection program and is Kate's go-to guy for all things tech. His relationship with Cameron Chase, an old friend of Kate's, is priceless, truly. Then there's Mark Shaw, who used to be a Manhunter. And then there's her law partner, Damon, who has a hot thing going with Todd "Obsidian" Rice. This is a diverse group of characters, with all treated with respect and dignity, except the villains, of course.

Just about anyone from the DCU can and does show up in this book, from members of the JLA to an OMAC to Director Bones. The villains range from the Shadow Thief to Copperhead to Cheshire. As first a federal prosecutor and now a defense attorney on the DEO's payroll, Kate had tried or defended some of the worst DC villains. You never know who might turn up. The book is firmly rooted in the DCU continuity, right up to Kate defending Wonder Woman in Max Lord's death. Even Kate's family history ties her tightly into the DCU.

The OYL jump worked nicely, too. The main changes being the ex is remarried with a baby on the way. But there was nothing too jarring. Just business and life as usual for Kate, which means plenty of action, thrills, and emotion in this tightly plotted book. Plus, the art's great and she has one of my favorite costumes.

Manhunter has been resurrected twice now after cancellation. Let's make it a real success this time. It's rare to get second chances in comics. Third chances are, or were, non-existent, til now. Let's show DC they were right to take the chance. Again.


  1. Wow, that's impressive - an entire review of a comic that never once mentions ANY of the real-life people who work on it!

  2. And double wow because I wrote that after averaging 3 hours of sleep each night all week. I'm amazed it was coherent, with grammar and punctuation and all that good stuff.

    And since I was reviewing 27 or 28 or whatever issues, looking up all the artists, given how I couldn't focus and had to get to bed so I could go back to work today, Saturday, well, if I didn't just post the f'in thing, I never would've gotten it written. I want to support the book, so I wrote a review. I rarely mention the creators because I do these reviews on the fly most of the time. That's not gonna change.

    Maybe at some point I'll go check the spelling of whatshisname who writes Manhunter and give him kudos.

  3. It's rare to get second chances in comics. Third chances are, or were, non-existent, til now.

    Actually, that isn't true. Spider-Girl has had the axe swung on it so often, you can now buy the book at butcher shops across the land. ;)

    Seriously, Spider-girl has faced canellation on, at least, three seperate occasions. So, while such repreives are VERY few in comic, Manhunter is not the only (or even FIRST) one to get more than a second chance in recent history.

    Just thought that should be noted. As for the rest of the post, you pretty much nailed the series, so I'll just add the postscript of "'Nuff Said" and leave it at that.

  4. Ah, thanks for the info re: Spider-Girl, James. Was the book actually canceled or just a possibility each time? I know very little about Marvel and I never read Spider-Girl. I did read Ms. Marvel back in, uh, the '70s or maybe it was the '80s.

    Still, a rare enough event that resurrections like this can probably be counted on one hand, maybe with spillover to the second.

  5. Ah, thanks for the info re: Spider-Girl, James. Was the book actually canceled or just a possibility each time?


    Well, it really depends on who you ask. As to my thoughts, I see it like this:

    Fist canellation notice: This was supposed to happen on issue #38. On the cover Spider-Girl is even exclaming something that would make you think it was the end. However, I think this was probably more of a stunt to get interest up in the book, without having to do any real marketing that costs money.

    Second canellation notice: This was to happen after issue #50. The repreive even stated that the axe had fallen and they were ready to stop making the book. Being issue #50, it seems like a number you'd stop at. Also, issue #51 was done by a fill-in team, not the regular one, which leave me to believe that it was cancelled, but they scrambled to make issue #51, to keep the monthly schedule, after they changed their minds.

    Third cancellation notice: This was supposed to happen with issue #100. Again, another issue that and ending would seem likely. However, with the recent news of Spider-Girl's success in trade format in bookstores, I don't think very many thought it was truly the end, as the relauch as the Amazing Spider-Girl titling shows. Again, it was more of a stint to draw interest to the relaunch and get some better numbers on that new #1 issue.

    That's my take on it. And you really should check the book out. It reminds me of the Spider-Man stories I read by in the 80's, if you wanted me to give you a "feel" for how it reads. Most stories are done within 1 to 3 issues, something unheard of today in most series. You really should check it out. I'd imagine you wouldn't have a problem finding one of the trade collections (and the great thing, is that you can start with any one of them, not needing to start at the very first one).

    Let me know if you check it out or not. :)

  6. Thanks for the update, James. I've never been able to get into Spider-Man, so I'm not sure Spider-Girl would be any different. The only superhero Marvel comic I've been able to read is Wolverine, and that's because I started with the current comic that had him out of costume for the first batch of issues. I've been losing interest since he put the costume back on. Weird, I know, but Marvel superheroes tend to leave me a bit cold.

  7. It absolutly is one of the best comics that's not being read. It's been canceled and uncanceled a few times now - and I hope it's finally going to stick for a while.