Manhunter 34 review

Kate Spencer continues her investigation into the murders of young women on the border between Mexico and Texas. Here she concludes her run-in with the Suicide Squad, is surprised by her Birds of Prey colleagues and discovers how complicated the situation truly is.

Manhunter continues to be an intelligent, enjoyable read since its recent un-cancellation, with Kate as complicated a character as ever. I don’t like her justification for killing Multiplex’ duplicates, but her arguments are compelling, as befits a lawyer. I do admire her sheer determination to not be deterred from her path in her bid to put an end to the murders.

Writer Mark Andreyko doesn’t skimp on characterisation of other characters either, with particularly satisfying moments for Bronze Tiger, Phantom Lady, Iron Munro and legal assistant Damon.

Mind, it’s the amount of time given to supporting players and their subplots that has me worrying about this book. Yes, we know DC is giving it a big trades push, and that Executive Editor Dan Didio loves the series, but surely the sheer number of subplots could put off new readers. We have weapons guy Dylan’s past catching up with him, son Ramsay’s emerging powers, the relationships between Phantom Lady and Iron Munro & Damon and Obsidian (wonders never cease, they actually share a close-up smacker!) and probably stuff I’ve forgotten. Outside of Kate’s (ugly red out of black) thought boxes, there’s no narration to introduce and contextualise characters, and instead of page transitions, new scenes just appear on top of the previous scene. I realise this sort of thing is considered cinematic but – newsflash – Manhunter is a comic book and comics have their own toolbox, which includes defaults for scene-setting and recaps. A new reader coming on after the start of an arc will likely be scratching their heads when a few simple, subtle concessions would allow them to dive straight in.

Really, I love this book, but it’s gone too far in the direction of trade-waiting; please DC, make it a titchy bit easier for new readers so the Manhunter property has a chance of surviving another year.

Artwise, Michael Gaydos continues to deliver art which is moody and realistic but not apparently dependent on models. My little quibble is that too many panels seem to take Kate’s bum or tits as the starting point for their design. Aside from the minor sexism I’m seeing/imagining, it’s shoving one of the pugliest costumes in comics in our face.

The big surprise artwise was the cover – I really liked it, looked for a signature and found it was the work of Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens, one of my least favourite artistic teams. So for one month, at least, I’m eating crow, guys.

Let’s just hope that for many months more, I’m reading Manhunter.

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