First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.8: Manhunter #8

Bass and Siskoid tackle Manhunter #8, the reverse coin of the events in Cuba seen in Flash #21 just a couple of episodes ago.

Listen to Episode 8 below (the usual filthy filthy language warnings apply), or subscribe to First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast on iTunes!

Relevant images and further credits at: First Strike ep.8 Supplemental

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13 responses to “First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.8: Manhunter #8

  1. Man, I loved me some Manhunter when this series started. I had a buddy who was an even bigger fan, and he went nuts drawing that mask and costume over and over. Doug Rice definitely picked up some of the Japanese influences from Walt Simonson’s Paul Kirk Manhutner design and merged them with his own Magna leanings. Rice returned for a few issues after this, but yeah, he was there and gone rather quickly. Frank Springer was a journeyman comic artist who was never bad, but never flashy. The definition of the competent fill-in artist. But a new title needs a better backbone than that. Grant Miehem came on later, and I always felt he was underrated. But it was probably too little, too late.

    Mark Shaw actually started out as a Manhunter in 1st Issue Special #5, by none other than Jack Kirby. Steve Engelhart picked up on both Shaw and the Manhunter cult threads, and thus gave us the Manhunters as Green Lantern precursors. It was a strange, strange road Shaw was on to get to this series. More like a random Marvel supporting character than a DC one.

    Great episode as always!


  2. Gents, Kate Spencer was the DA in Star City as featured in Arrow.

    Great show, fellas. Sloan rules.

  3. Enjoyable episode gentlemen. I have never read a single issue of MANHUNTER but I liked the artwork samples you posted. I imagine it was tough having a main character who cannot show emotion.

    The “face off” page reminds me of a similar scene in the cheezy horror movie THE CAR, where a victim has a face off with the titular possessed car, consisting of rapid cutaways to…the grill of a car. Try as they might, the filmmakers could not quite extract any emotion from half of the “actors” in the scene.

    Loved all the Aquaman talk!

  4. Another great episode. Legit LOL with the ‘Brits’ comment. That joke only works in a particular time and place (hopefully).

    One of the things I liked best about the Mark Shaw Manhunter series was the tight continuity with Suicide Squad. For example: Mark Shaw would be hired by Amanda Waller to bring in Count Vertigo, and then in a month or two, Vertigo appears in Belle Reve prison and gets added to the Squad roster. Same writers in Ostrander & Yale, so easy to coordinate, but no less satisfying.

    In the next few weeks, my podcast Waiting For Doom will tackle the Invasion! crossover issues. No ongoing was impacted more by this event than the Doom Patrol!

    Catch ya later Aquaman haters!

  5. Prior to Crisis, I’d all but given up on DC Comics’ output. Most probably, I can trace my 1987 resurgence of interest to a handful of weeks having access to my first ever neighborhood comic shop, where I got a copy of DC Focus and sampled a bunch of current books on a discount/dinged copy rack. Further, when I moved out of state, Nevada proved to have better distribution of DC books than Texas. I committed to the Millennium weekly event mini-series for the first month, and also picked up a number of tie-ins. I don’t think anything new stuck at the time, but my familiarity helped ease me into trying the spin-off Manhunter series. The cool name and heavily altered design taken from the robot cult suited my tastes, and after picking up the debut issue, I found the premise of a costumed bounty hunter appealing. Unfortunately, that was also the last issue I ever found on the newsstand, lacking access to bookstores and specialty shops. I think I crossed paths with the title again in 1989, where I found new issues still coming out at my second ever neighborhood comic shop, but opted to go with back issues instead. Unfortunately, that shop then closed without warning, and I think I’d only managed to complete the awesome first story arc. Another couple of years passed, and I was living near a flea market open on weekends with a comic shop that had much of the run. I started collecting the series again with the okay human interest vignette in the fifth issue, followed by five issues of fill-in art, spinning wheels, and overall lackluster effort. I decided to jump to the final arc of the series, beginning with #18, which picked up the story from the first arc of the harrowing villain Dumas. I made it 3-4 issues in, and either got bored or the shop location shut down.

    I gave up on that volume, but I still had an interest in the Manhunter name and the Mark Shaw character. I was already reading Eclipso when Mark Shaw appeared to be killed in the massacre on Diablo Island. I tried the Zero Hour Manhunter series, realized my mistake after the #0 issue, but came back for the last two issues that retconned Shaw’s death. I read back issues of Justice League of America, Suicide Squad, and Secret Origins related to Mark Shaw, plus a collection of Goodwin & Simonson’s Paul Kirk Manhunter strips from Detective Comics. I gave Power Company and their “Kirk DePaul” (ugh) clone too many chances. When Kate Spencer came along, I didn’t bite at first, but ended up following a chunk of the run due to tie-ins with Identity Crisis and the story of a serial killer hunting down bearers of the Manhunter mantle, which involve Shaw, DePaul, and Chase Lawler.

    So here’s the thing: Mark Shaw held a lot of potential, had plentiful back story to play with, and was liked well enough to get repeatedly rescued from death and obscurity. That said, he never fulfilled his promise, his continuity is a train wreck, and everything worthwhile about him should be gifted to a new character (preferably one less represented in comics than white males.) Paul Kirk originated virtually every now-cheesy ninja gimmick in comics, and serves best as a reminder to pay tribute to the late Archie Goodwin by leaving everything about his incarnation of the Manhunter in the friggin’ ground already. Everyone involved with Chase Lawler would likely prefer he remain forgotten. That leaves Kate Spencer, inheritor of all things Manhunter plus some extra besides. I’m glad Siskoid likes her, and she has her fans. Just not enough of them, and once she switched from prosecutor to defense attorney, she’s basically a gender-swapped Daredevil. Spencer is a nice occasional utility player to take out off the bench when a bigger character needs to lawyer up. Still no Manhunter here.

    The DC Universe is only big enough to have one Manhunter, and he’s from goddamned Mars. Fuck your robots and the endless line of self-inflicted trademark pirates that limp along in one failed series after another. J’Onn J’Onzz is your Manhunter. He’s got toys. He’s on cartoons. He’s on live action television. Eventually, when the DCEU gets its head out of its ass, he’ll be in movies. He’s the super-hero who everyone likes because he’s beautifully tragic and he eats the cookies. He’s way more powerful and interesting and versatile and has a stronger story engine and is more well known as DC’s “black” hero than Cyborg. Unless they wise up about Hal Boredan, they won’t take advantage of Green Lantern John Stewart, so the (Martian) Manhunter is their best bet at lucrative representation. The Manhunter brand is not Coca-Cola, and fifteen different RC Colas destroys the brand. When DC inevitably brings back Miss Martian in some variation on Young Justice or the Teen Titans, hurting her mentor’s brand compromises her too. One Manhunter… From Mars… accept no substitutes!

    Regarding the West Coast Avengers, I don’t think you can call any property with little star power that runs a hundred consecutive issues plus mini-series, specials and spin-offs that only ends to launch a heavily promoted new “extreme” version that itself lasts almost two years before bowing out during the second most spectacular collapse in the industry’s history a failure. All of those characters and concepts are still in play at Marvel, regardless of whatever lame subtitle they give to their secondary Avengers team at this year’s annual relaunch.

    As for the Detroit era Justice League, that was a moderate critical and commercial failure overinflated by the same conservative mentality that rejects any break from the rigid status quo, especially as it relates to what we’ll euphemistically call “mainstream” icons. The embarrassing racial stereotypes of yesteryear become quaint and even downright endearing over time, especially when in retrospect they were clearly well intended misfires. Stories that may have been torturous on a monthly basis are breezy when read as a back issue that functions as part of a fairly contained maxi-series. Vixen was always a good character, deserving of her own webtoon and live action appearances. She sadly remains DC’s most prominent African-descent super-heroine. Vibe has progressed from amusingly dated caricature to well liked supporting character on a popular TV show, and is still DC’s highest profile character of Latin descent. Steel was a star that burned not so bright before flickering out, no harm done. All of the lower tier veteran Leaguers have leveled up in the time since, as have some of their villains, so kudos to Aquaman for trying something different when the tried and true was tired and overdue for a shake-up.

  6. I recently found a brick of Manhunter in the dollar box of my local comic store. Having heard a lot about Doug Rice’s art on the early issues and the nutty end to the Dumas story, I opted in buying the first 7 issues. When this episode hit the feed, I went back to the store and bought it to follow along.

    As you say throughout the episode, this isn’t a great issue. I have to assume that one of the things DC was hoping was that an Invasion crossover would bring in new readers to a title, a sample to maybe keep buying. I don’t think I would want to read Manhunter if this was my introduction. He passes out/knocked out way too much for me to consider him a draw. And the wonky bits of timing with the bird, the unseen grab of the baton, etc … this just wasn’t good.

    Would I have liked it more if Rice was doing the art? Probably. But probably not enough to have had me come back.

    I would recommend the Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter from the early 70s. Those stories were put together into a Baxter one-shot which can be found in dollar boxes as well.

  7. Due to being busy at work and having problems downloading your podcasts, I’m a little behind… Couple of Manhunter points….

    1) Manhunter’s weapon isn’t just a baton, but it’s a power baton. It’s powered with all sorts of goodies. Most often used is the electromagnetic pulse he uses as a weapon or to bounce around (and often save himself from falling as show in this issue).

    2) Manhunter’s power baton requires to be charged every so often. It was a point in the stories at times that it would run low on juice or he’d mention he had to charge it (kind of like GL’s ring, but how often depends on how much he uses it and how often *kind of like Kyle’s ring*).

    3) You gentlemen questioned Manhunter/Mark Shaw’s secret ID. While he wears a mask, he doesn’t have a secret identity per se. That’s why he didn’t mind leaping out in his civilian clothes, as unlike most heroes, he isn’t hiding that Mark Shaw and Manhunter are the same person.
    The mask isn’t to hide his identity, but it has sensors in it, plus it’s part of him being Manhunter.

    Great podcast Siskoid and Bass. When I get to the Invasion in my books (both Starman, Manhunter and Checkmate (over on the Task Force X Podcast)), I’ll be sure to mention your show and point people your way for full coverage (as I’m only going to cover my books and the ones that crossed over like The Flash).

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