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Manhunter #17

Posted: Saturday, December 24, 2005
By: Ray Tate



"Who's Your Daddy?" Part 2--"Fear and Loathing"

Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artists: Javier Pina(p), Fernando Blanco(i), Steve Buccellato(c)
Publisher: DC

Frickin' brilliant! Manhunter is the best continuing, continuity series that DC is currently publishing. Faint praise, I know. Manhunter however is good enough to be a pre-Crisis series. The reason for this quality can be found in the talents of Marc Andreyko, Javier Pina, Fernando Blanco and Steve Buccellato.

Though writing a series, Marc Andreyko is talented and skilled enough to know that readers don't like to be dangled about over the coals of decompression. You'll find no padding in Manhunter nor uncharacteristic behavior that artificially stretches the pacing.

Andreyko realizes that some questions really do have a simple answer. So unlike lesser books on the rack, he provides resolutions to the setups he establishes. This issue of Manhunter answers the cliffhanger posed last issue. Will Kate Spencer join her friend and former college roommate Chase Cameron in the D.E.O.? Her answer will affect the door opened last issue where the mystery man posing as Kate's father beat the tar out of Kate's ex-husband.

Marc Andreyko builds on Kate's characterization by bringing up a previous cliffhanger in which she and her ex-husband in bed "talked" about old times. He lets the reader know her thoughts in her point of view narration--expertly dialogued, and he very naturally brings out her killer instinct. Kate's not just a super-hero. She's the deadliest super-hero on the planet. What she lacks in experience and skill, she makes up for in raw determination, and if she gains the experience and skill, she will become the hero villains fear the most.

While a seriously minded story, Andreyko balances the dark atmosphere with the comedy relief of Dylan--Kate's mechanical genius partner who was a flunky for almost every super-villain in the DCU. Dylan kidnapped a journalist that has been following Kate, and Andreyko has some fun by showing the journalist arrive at a conclusion that's rational, surprising and refreshingly amusing. It also plays with the idea of what the reader knows as opposed to the characters in the play. As a readers, we're given views into windows that are opaque to the other characters, and Andreyko knows just how much a character should know and shouldn't.

Javier Pina and Steve Buccellato enhance Andreyko's words with their artwork. Pina doesn’t get the opportunity to draw Manhunter in costume, and Buccellato also doesn't have the chance to bring out the reds. Their work stays within the real world, but that doesn't diminish its power. When Kate's instincts take over, Pina imbues the determination to the character's face, and Buccellato makes her green eyes flash angrily. When Andreyko's writing leads up to the big reveal, which is a knock you out of your socks kind of surprise, they give her a realistic and understated look of surprise, and in between Pina's panel construction, segues and aesthetic sensibilities create a quick pace that's nothing short of being reminiscent of Alias, the television series.



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