Or – “Oh, THAT Cancellation Notice!”

MH10.jpgreviewbubble.jpgWell, heck, that didn’t last very long.  The little book that could has apparently been cancelled again.  Initially canned with #25, Manhunter was given a repreive after a tideswell of fan response, and granted another 5 issues.  The word out of DC is that this arc is the end for Kate Spencer’s solo book (though she did join the Birds of Prey in issue #100) and I only hope that we’ll get some closure for Mark Shaw, for Cameron Chase, even for Kate’s long-suffering tech wizard Dylan.  This issue progresses storylines, has several surprises, but most interestingly, has no appearances by Manhunter in costume, just Kate in a very smart and sexy suit.  So, how’d it go?

MH1.jpgRemarkably well, actually.  The cover image by Howard Chaykin promises a surprise (and I’m not at all sure what the heck it’s all about, either), but the issue starts with the return of a supporting character from the past and a little bit of a twist, as well.  We start this issue with the unpleasant death of Maxwell Lord… again.  How many years has this plot been going on, anyway?  Three?  Four?  I’m not certain, anymore. 

Wonder Woman is before the grand jury, with Kate “Manhunter” Spencer for the defense.  The prosecuting attorney is Kate’s former law clerk, Mikey Johnson.  Johnson sets up his evidence by showing the doctored Brother Eye footage of Lord’s death.  When Kate calls “Objection!,” she is reminded by the judge that this is just a grand jury inquiry, and that she’d better not make the judge regret her decision to let Kate be a part of the proceedings…


Oooh, man.  That’s gotta hurt.  At that point, Mikey reflexively calls out an objection of his own, and the judge nearly hits the roof, threatening to hold BOTH of them in contempt.  But in so doing, she forgot to tell the jury to disregard Kate’s words.  Princess Diana finds it all mystifying, but Katie is elated that her little ploy worked.  Meanwhile, in Gotham City, Kate’s best friend Cameron Chase is holed up in a dingy brownstone, still freaked out from being contacted by Dr. Trapp last issue.  A knock at her door claims to bring Chinese food, but instead it’s her not-quite-boyfriend Dylan the tech wonder.  When Cam explains that she ran because she’s not any good at talking about things, Dylan drops a little bombshell of his own.


I think that Cam’s face pretty much says it all there.  Having been a fan of her from the days when she had her own book, seeing Chase in a relationship is like watching an old friend finally figure out what she wants in a guy.  It’s kinda sweet, actually, and not as awkward as the usual comic book romance.  Meanwhile, Kate and Wonder Woman take lunch in an outdoor cafe in Los Angeles.  The paparazzi is omnipresent, snapping picture after picture, but Diana doesn’t understand why they want pictures of two women sitting at a table eating lunch.  Kate responds, “New York has roaches and rats.  We have the paparazzi.”  Wow.  Sharp tongued Manhunter this month.  Kate explains that they’re in the public eye for a good reason…  if it looks like Wonder Woman is HIDING, then the media will assume she has something TO hide.  Instead, they pay their check and walk into the lion’s den…


I am loving Kate’s attitude this month.  She is witty and really sharp, and it makes up for never putting on her tights, at least for me.  Meanwhile, in the Himalayas, Mark Shaw has agreed to travel with the mysterious Knights who accosted him last issue.  I suggested at the time that they may have been part of the Manhunter Order that initially empowered him (and not coincidentally started the whole Millenium crossover 20 years ago).  They back him up to a cliffside, and advance, saying that he’s run out of negotiating room…  Mark grabs a sword, and leaps OFF THE CLIFF, landing some twenty feet down and climbing through a chasm behind a convenient waterfall.  I don’t know if real mountains actually look like that, but it’s pretty cool.  Unfortunately, he’s done exactly what the kuh-nig-hits wanted him to…


St Dumas?  That can’t be good.  Not only was Mark’s nemesis/retconned-split-personality a stone cold killer called Dumas, I think this is the order that trained Jean Paul Valley to be a psycho nutjob split personality himself.  I wonder if maybe they’re not going to be tying some more old continuity bits together, especially given that Kate’s Manhunter aresenal includes Jean Paul’s own Batman gauntlets (or one pair of them, at any rate.)  Speaking of Batman, back on his home turf, Cameron has been explaining to Dylan the…  unique nature of her parentage.


The Justice Experience is flat-out awesome, thank you very much.  They were created to fill in the gap between the Justice Society and Justice League created by DC’s sliding timeline, originally fitting in the late sixties.  Entertainingly, since their creation in 1998-ish, the sliding timeline has slid further, and they now have to be in the mid-70’s.  Ridiculously obscure trivia note:  The Bronze Wraith was revealed to have been none other than J’onn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter, in one of his earlier superhero identities.  Cameron explains how she found out about her daddy’s double life, when Acro-Bat’s archenemy Doctor Trapp captured her at age five and threatened to kill her.   Cameron remembers feeling dizzy, and then the most unexpected thing of all happened…


It was the first appearance of Cam’s superpower, an ill-defined ability to manipulate energy, but it was enought to get her free.  But Trapp has returned, and has kidnapped her baby sister, so Cameron has to settle some scores.   She grudgingly agrees to let Dylan help her (as long as he stops with the cutesy pet names) and they set off into the Gotham City night.  I suspect a Batman cameo to boost sales coming…  Meanwhile, back in the Wonder Woman cameo to boost sales, Kate crosses jurisprudentiary swords with Mikey again, then meets with the press.  Telling Wonder Woman to stay silent and look heroic, she explains that they are confident that the grand jury will not indict, and starts to explain Wonder Woman’s actions.  The feed is seen by ANOTHER denizen of the DC Universe, this one both intimately aware of what REALLY happened with Max Lord, AND powerful enough to do something about it.


Major Spoilers?  Meet Sascha Bordeaux.  You may know her from my Checkmate reviews, but suffice to say, she’s got some pull and she’s not afraid to use it.  This just got more interesting.  As Kate wraps up her press conference, a bug shaped shadow falls over the crowd, and things get just plain surreal.


What th’?  Aside from being freakish and wrong, this is really bad.  See, part of Wonder Woman’s rationale for killing Lord was that he had already killed Blue Beetle and was threatening to use Superman to kill even more people.  I’m not sure what effect this will have on Kate’s case.  Whatever is going on, I suspect sinister intent.  But, then, I always suspect sinister intent.

This issue was intriguing, with bits of revelation in all the plotlines, and some very expressive art.  The courtroom scenes were interesting, and Kate’s demeanor with both the reporters and the jury was pretty awesome.  I keep reading uninformed opinions claiming that this book is nothing but a knock off of Daredevil, but honestly, Daredevil was never about the courtroom…  Manhunter loves her day job as much (possibly more) than her Manhunter gig.  If you’re not reading this book, you really should be.  Worst case scenario, you’ll have four or five good issues to read, with with I hope is a solid conclusion.  At best, maybe we can get another extension on the cancellation notice, and Spider-Girl this title a few months at a time.  Either way, issue #26 is a three star effort.


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Stephen
    January 23, 2007 at 3:27 pm — Reply

    I wish I had picked this title up long ago, from everything I’ve heard (and read – great review Matt), it sounds like a blast and a half.

  2. Matthew
    January 23, 2007 at 9:08 pm — Reply

    Trade paperbacks are available… and odds are you can still pick it out of a back issue bin. Heck, I have a few issues in our bins, available at a reasonable price with incremental discounting. :)

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