Thursday, March 03, 2005

Manhunter (vol. III) 1 - 5

DC's recent focus on many B-level characters and the gritty, grungy areas of the DCU is a welcome thing if you ask me. As much fun as it is to read about the JLA and Batman and Green Lantern and all the top tier characters, I am also very attracted to reading about the "lesser" superheroes. This, DC's third volume of Manhunter, is one of the better DC titles out there, in my opinion.

Unlike your standard superhero story where the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad, Manhunter has a sense of moral ambiguity surrounding it. The villains are bad, but the hero... well, she isn't much better. True, she may be doing what she does for the greater good, but her means are much more extreme and dark than anything you'd see Superman doing.

In this initial five issue arc, Kate Spencer, a top level lawyer, is prosecuting Copperhead, a cold blooded metahuman killer. The jury, believing Copperhead is a victim of genetics finds him not guilty and he is sent to a rehabilitation center. In transit, he escapes killing even more innocents. Kate, not content with what is happening, raids the evidence lockers and steals the Manhunter suit. As a superhero she kills Copperhead and proclaims that a new hero is in town to clean up the trash.

From the way I describe it, you'd probably think that this series is simply a mixing of The Punisher, Daredevil, and a superpowered suit, but it's not. When not acting as the Manhunter, Kate is dealing with a divorced husband, remembering to spend time with her child on her weekends, and focusing on her work.

You can almost feel the stress and hurt that Kate is going through every day of her life. When her son discovers her Manhunter suit, he almost kills himself with it. When fighting The Shadow Thief, she is almost killed because of her overconfidence. Everything in her life is tipsy-turvy and I keep waiting for Kate to simply snap. It's this tension and down-to-earth take on a superhero that keeps me coming back for more.

The art, by Jesus Saiz, is also very fitting. It's realistic, gritty, and nicely detailed. The covers by Jae Lee are also a wonder to behold, but that might be because I enjoy everything Lee does. The art complements the story perfectly and the combination of the writing and the art make this one of the better currently running DC titles out there at the moment. It's just too bad that more people aren't reading it.

Art: 3.5
Story: 4
Overall: 4

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