Current Reviews


Manhunter #8

Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2005
By: Ray Tate

"Trial by Fire": Part Three--"Bad Influence"

Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artists: Javier Pina(p), Jimmy Palmiotti(i), Steve Bucellato(c)
Publisher: DC

"Damn. This...thing is...really amazing...T-T-Too bad...It didn't come with an instruction book."--Kate Spencer A.K.A. Manhunter

For any Manhunter readers who watched The Greatest American Hero Kate's dialogue creates a moment of pure giggly fun, and this element is what distinguishes Manhunter from DC's normal dreck. Manhunter is not just deadpan serious. It's witty.

Faithful readers will be aware of my disdain for the treatment of Kobra in Breach. Marc Andreyko in almost an aside finds a way to make Kobra and his followers as loony as they used to be and without sacrificing the seriousness of the situation. In fact, the reader upon viewing the scene will say to herself: "now that was clever." Few books try to be clever or witty. Manhunter is both.

Beyond being clever, Andreyko plans out his book. The fight between Manhunter and Cheshire is brilliantly staged. It shows how quickly Kate is adapting to her life as a super-hero. It conserves the idea of arrogance being a villain's downfall, not an asset. It reinforces Kate's status as a vigilante and her being wanted by the police.

The issue's focus deals with the death of Firestorm in Identity Crisis. Now, I saved money and time by not reading that offal. I read Firestorm. In an era when books didn't increase above seventy-five cents, I read practically everything the comic book industry put out. Good or bad. Batman or Hypno-Hustler. It didn't matter because the potential financial loss was negligible.

I liked Firestorm, but he was never a favorite character, and I always felt he worked better in the League than alone. The power of Andreyko's writing makes Firestorm live and breathe in the memory of his grieving parents. These scenes are honestly moving. Firestorm was no A-List Hero, but hearing his parents, you feel that he had every right to live--even in fiction.

The substitution of Jesus Saiz cannot slow down Manhunter. Javier Pina makes an able guest penciler for the lithe Kate Spencer. The inks by Jimmi Palmiotti heighten the play of Kate's muscles. The colors of Steve Buccellato make Kate's signature crimson. What amazes me the most is how the entire art team maintains a consistent look for Kate that is almost identical to the original design of Saiz.

Fresh, at turns funny and dramatic, Manhunter stars a super-hero who actually bothers to fight crime--during the night and during the day. Witty writing spotlights an action-packed story as well as anatomically attractive artwork. These are the factors that make Manhunter a spectacular read.

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