Wednesday, June 4, 2008

You should be reading: Manhunter #31

Well, it's about time.

After a year of waiting, Manhunter will finally be back on comic book store shelves with today's issue #31. I was beginning to doubt it would ever happen: First the book was almost canceled, then it was saved thanks to some strong fan outcry, then it was canceled again, and then saved again. And then it went on hiatus in April 2007, with a promise it would return in the summer. I guess technically this is the beginning of A SUMMER, so I'm sure DC will argue they're right on schedule. (And no, a recurring role in Birds of Prey doesn't count.)

But I really can't complain very much — Manhunter is just too good.

With Marc Andreyko's scripts and various artists who all maintained a moody and sharp-edged style, Manhunter was easily one of the best titles in DC's stable. Thankfully, Andreyko is back to continue nurturing his sarcastic, chain-smoking and unapologetically violent superhero and her fantastic supporting cast, and new artist Michael Gaydos (who also did Alias) sounds like a good fit.

I've gone on and on about how great Manhunter is before, but it bears repeating. I mean, I'd hate to see it on the chopping block again, especially since it's a title that deserves to find an audience and continue to grow on its own terms. Kate Spencer — as well as her supporting cast — is something you don't always see in superhero comics; a real person.

It's a superhero book, so of course there is a lot of leaping off roofs and cackling bad guys and things that defy basic physics so the good guy gets a chance to punch someone in the face. That's a big part of what I like about Manhunter. But what's really engaging is Kate, because even when she puts on the mask she's still Kate — someone who's trying to quit smoking, someone who's trying to be a good mother in the middle of a bad divorce, someone who balances a life as a federal attorney with a new life as a vigilante fueled by the limitations of the legal system. She doesn't get into costume and suddenly have all the answers with none of the doubt. She is — for better and worse — all too human.

But she tries like hell.

Along with Blue Beetle, Manhunter is a title that's at the top of my favorites list, and if you think you'd like a comic featuring a strong, smart, realistic female character dealing with everyday struggles along with super-powered villains, I can't recommend it enough. Actually, if you just like good comics, I couldn't recommend it enough.

(By the way, both Manhunter and Blue Beetle will be dealing with border issues for the next few months — what are the chances of some crossover? Or did it already happen?!)

There are four trades available if you didn't catch it the first time around, but don't let that stop you from picking up Manhunter #31. I'm pretty sure this would be a good jumping on point, and you shouldn't miss it.

In other words: You should be reading Manhunter.

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