Psychobabble Part Four: "Phantom Pain"
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artists: Javier Pina & Diego Olmos (layouts), Fernando Blanco(finishes), Jason Wright(c)
Manhunter opens with the resolution of last issue's cliffhanger. Sweeney Todd stands ready to slice and dice Chase Cameron. Chase though gives as good as she takes before being stalked and stabbed by the psychopath. Will this be another woman stuffed in DC's very crowded refrigerator?
Kate Spencer engages in a timely save that bears her own unique style. I'd like to consider her move a kill, for if Sweeney Todd was human, her pragmatic and highly effective ploy would have splattered him in a wide radius. Alas, he's more than human. Not to worry, I'm sure she'll kill the vermin eventually.
Kate proves her chops as hero by thinking of the victim first. She takes advantage of the killer's wind being seriously knocked out of him and, using her tres cool staff, blasts away from danger, with Chase in tow.
Things calm down a bit when Kate and Chase recuperate by having lunch with happy couple Todd and Damon. Andreyko here also adds some wit to the tale while simultaneously providing some history associated with the legendary Butcher Barber.
Dr. Mid-Nite interrupts this program with a call to Kate that sheds even more light on her heroic ancestry. This nicely sets up a very moving flashback that gives one of the lesser members of the JSA a chance to stand out. It's nice to see also that Andreyko highlights the hero's goodness and kindness rather than some unsavory unwanted information like an affair with the Black Canary.
The addition of a new artist and the diminishing of full pencils once solely provided by Javier Pina surprisingly does not adversely affect the artwork. Blanco's finishing gives Manhunter a grittier but acceptable and textured look. This is especially effective during the battle scenes against Sweeney Todd but less so when Kate's real life takes the center stage. Jason Wright's colors also seem schizophrenic. The nighttime shades work well in the scenes with Sweeney Todd, but almost look as though they're trying too hard when depicting the sunlit scenes. The cast here has a very unnatural orange gloss that I suppose is meant to reflect the sunlight but just looks unnatural.
Artistically the best element about Manhunter is still the number of proportionate ladies in the cast. Even the Phantom Lady looks like her old self, ala Matt Baker, rather than the ridiculous Falling Out of Costume Lady. This attention to anatomically and aesthetically pleasing physique makes the cover that more ludicrous and out of place. Why in the world are Manhunter's honkers so huge, and why did DC let the cover artist get away with essentially spraying on a costume to her clearly naked body? Perhaps I shouldn't complain. Maybe covers of the Kate nude will drum up sales and push this living on borrowed time series past the issue thirty deadline.
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