Welcome to the Revolution’s first-ever two books in one review. With Manhunter 21 being the second issue of the comic to come out since the “One Year Later” leap, it made more sense to catch up with the title at the same time. So without further ado….
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Layouts: Javier Pina
Finishes: Fernando Blanco
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Total Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Issue 20, like the other OYL titles, is a “jumping on the title” issue, and in a classic but very effective approach, we see Kate Spencer, AKA the Manhunter, in action. Manhunter is working for the DEO ( the DCU’s federal agency that deals with super-powered individuals) and tonight this means finding and capturing Punch And Jewelee, two lower levels, and often laughed at lower rung villains. Before she engages them, she checks in with her friend and DEO contact, Cameron Chase, who is in “action” of her own with Kate’s tech guy “Dylan”.
Kate does well against the two, and Obsidian (from the JSA among other titles) drops and catches a falling Punch. The two villains out cold, Kate and Todd (Obsidian) catch up a little bit, as Todd is Damon’s ( a workmate of Kate’s in her “day job”) boyfriend.
From their, we cut to a quick two-page scene that introduces Kate’s son Ramsey, her very pregnant babysitter Julia and Julia’s screenwriter-novelist husband Peter. Another cut, this time to Kate showering and musing on her time (during the OYL year) in Metropolis and how she now, after “self-imposed two-year internship” considers herself a real superhero. As she comes downstairs to what she expects to be her empty living room, she is surprised by Mr. Bones, although she doesn’t recognize him because he is wearing skin makeup (otherwise his skin and organs are invisible, leaving only his skeleton showing).
Mr. Bones is in town seeing a female friend and stops by to give Kate her next job. Her son comes home, and Bones leaves soon after. Kate puts her son to bed and tries to convince him she is not a superhero, but he knows better.
We get a one-page setup of a woman walking to her car alone late at night, and a figure in a hood with a switchblade attacking her, saying “your soul is damned!”
Back to Kate, who is reviewing the information for her next job. Unfortunately, she finds out that she is being told to represent Dr. Psycho, one of the League of villains, that was behind a major atrocity in the past year. With this issue 20 ends.
Issue 21 picks up with a fairly detailed account of just what Dr. Psycho did in Metropolis, mainly mind-controlling a group of ordinary citizens to literally rip a disobedient superhero group apart limb from limb. We find out seven pages in that this is the testimony of one of the controlled at Dr. Psycho’s trial. Kate Spencer, acting as his defense lawyer, expertly discredits the witness by revealing anger issues with an ex-husband and mental problems in her youth. Kate is reluctant to continue doing this, but Mr. Bones persuades her to continue.
Cut to Dylan trying to talk Cameron Chase into letting him come over. There is a brief flash of someone on his previously blank monitors asking for help, but that quickly disappears. On the next page, we cut to what appears to be Mark Shaw (one of the long list of Manhunters, and an ally of Kate’s) jogging, when he runs into a dog named Thor. As he follows the dog (that runs away from him) he is brought down by tranquilizer dart, as an ominous shadowed figure looks on. Our focus now shifts to a hotel room in the Vista Motel, where an unspecified couple are starting to.. couple.. when they are interrupted by same fanatical person from the previous issue, who punches the man, Terminator-style, through the stomach, and tells the woman to “pray for salvation, wanton woman”.
Back at the courthouse, probably the next day, Kate Spencer is questioning Dr. Midnite, trying to poke holes in his medical testimony concerning the mind control. She follows him out after court adjourns, and asks him to verify if her father was a son of Al and Mary Pratt. Al Pratt was the original Atom in the JSA.
The Good: If you are a comics fan but don’t have to have long fights filling up all the pages, if you like realistic characters, and small moments and clever banter, you should try out this comic book.
There is quite a lot to praise here. Manhunter #20 is an almost textbook example of how to make exposition be a natural part of the story. Everything you need to know to read the comic is presented in an entertaining way. We see all or hear about all the important recurring characters, and by the end of the story, have a couple of good reasons to read the next issue.
Issue 21 is a whole issue without our main character in costume, but the conflict both in the courtroom and in herself are more than interesting enough, along with the continuing b and c stories.
The art in both issues serves the story well. There are so many things done well that went unnoticed by me until I read the comics again for the review. Small details like the book on Kate’s nightstand, posing Mr. Bones with his cigar like he is usually seen back at the DEO, the statue of Lady Justice as Kate Talks to Mr. Bones.
The book is drawn and colored (colors by Jason Wright) very realistically. Many of the characters look fairly normal, like Dylan or Cameron. The use of angles, and cutaways, along with panel design all help to establish the mood. Some of the shots are just beautiful, and the whole comic is laid out as if it were a television show
I haven’t’ read this comic from the beginning, rather I jumped on with the inclusion of Cameron Chase, as her nine-issue comic is a favorite of mine. It was on my probation list for a while, but the previous storyline, dealing with previous manhunters, convinced me to grant it official pull status. These two OYL stories are not letting me down.
The Bad: My only complaint with this comic is in its pacing. Andreyko has done an excellent job of using every page, and he is juggling a fairly large cast and at least 4 storylines, but Manhunter #21 especially felt like it needed a little more story. It was like watching a t.v. show, and wondering why they cut to commercial so quickly since the last commercial break, even though you can look at the clock and see that plenty of time had gone by. Andrekyo is writing this with a faster pace than the previous storyline, and I’m sure this will read well when collected into trades, but I wish it moved a little faster. Not a huge complaint.