26 April 2017

Faster than a DC Bullet: All-New All-Different DC, Part VII: Manhunter: Unleashed

My review of Torchwood: Outbreak, the first Big Finish Torchwood story to reunite the main cast, is up at Unreality SF.

Comic trade paperback, 174 pages
Published 2008 (contents: 2006-07)
Borrowed from the library
Read February 2017
Manhunter: Unleashed

Writer: Marc Andreyko
Pencillers: Javier Pina, Fernando Blanco, Brad Walker, Diego Olmos, Cafu
Inkers: Robin Riggs, Fernando Blanco, Art Thibert
Colorist: Jason Wright
Letterers: Travis Lanham, Phil Balsman, Nick J. Napolitano, Ken Lopez

This volume puts the new set-up that debuted in volume 3 of Manhunter on hold: Kate successfully defends Doctor Psycho, creating the connection that she (and Director Bones) want with the Secret Society of Super Villains, but this doesn't actually go anywhere in this volume because Wonder Woman turns up, asking Kate to be her defense attorney when she's up before a grand jury for possible indictment for the murder of Maxwell Lord back in The OMAC Project. Even though is neither Kate-as-Manhunter-kills-the-villains-the-law-can't-touch now Kate-must-put-her-instincts-aside-and-defend-villains, I was on board at first: there's some fun legal wrangling, Wonder Woman's regalness is a great contrast to Kate's earthiness, and Ted "Blue Beetle" Kord even puts in an appearance despite being dead.

The pleasure Kate takes in both of her jobs is one of the defining/interesting aspects of her character.
from Manhunter vol. 3 #27 (art by Javier Pina & Fernando Blanco and Robin Riggs)

But by the end of the book, things didn't quite land. Kate avoids an indictment for Wonder Woman, but it mostly feels like Checkmate did the actual work. In the meantime, Kate's supporting cast have gone on some adventures (Cameron and Dylan face an old supervillain; Mark avoids more mystical summons) that don't really integrate well with the rest of the book.

I mean, it's a comic book, but his iron jaw is still pretty dumb, especially for the more "grounded" tone of this book.
from Manhunter vol. 3 #29 (art by Javier Pina, Brad Walker, & Fernando Blanco and Robin Riggs)

The human elements of Manhunter are always solid, but Andreyko struggles to integrate them with compelling superheroics. The villains Kate fights often feel like filler, and Unleashed continues that trend. Once again, great premise, middling execution.

Or there's the sort-of silly and overhyped Manhunter/Wonder Woman fight, which turns out (unsurprisingly) to be a training session, despite Andreyko trying to fool you into thinking it's about Kate's lethal methods or something.
from Manhunter vol. 3 #26 (art by Javier Pina & Robin Riggs)
Next Week: Forget the old Blue Beetle-- the new one goes on a Road Trip!

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