DC Comics' costumed Manhunter was a creation of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, debuting in Adventure Comics #73 in 1942. He was originally called Rick Nelson but received the name Paul Kirk in Adventure Comics #74. This Paul Kirk was not a detective but a wealthy, big game hunter and sportsman. Kirk had heard of the ancient sect of Manhunters and designed a costume based on the legends. He decided to use his hunting and tracking skills as the Manhunter when his friend, Police Inspector Donavan, was killed by a costumed criminal called the Buzzard. Kirk wore his Manhunter costume and captured the Buzzard. The Manhunter series continued until Adventure Comics #92 in 1944.
Kirk continued his crimefighting career as the Manhunter and eventually joined the All-Star Squadron. The Manhunter met another costumed hero with the same name, Dan Richards, when both were members of the All-Star Squadron. Both Manhunters later worked together with the Young All-Stars. During World War II, the Manhunter accepted the government's request to complete secret missions behind enemy lines. The Manhunter hated this type of work and decided to resume big game hunting in Africa. In 1946, Kirk was mortally wounded by the charge of a bull elephant and laid there dying in the jungle. Kirk was saved by a secret organization known as the Council and was placed in suspended animation. The Council had dedicated itself to prevent the self-destructive nature of humanity.
The Manhunter, with the same civilian identity of Paul Kirk, returned in 1973 as a back-up feature published in Detective Comics #437-443. While in suspended animation, the Council had genetically altered the Manhunter to enhance his healing ability. Decades had passed before the Council revived the Manhunter from suspended animation and trained him to lead a branch of warriors who were clones of the Manhunter. The training involved intensive exercises in various forms of fighting such as martial arts and armed combat. The Manhunter was also updated with a different costume and various weapons. The Manhunter later learned that the Council was the true threat to humanity and had to fight against them.
The Manhunter escaped from the Council and waged an on-going conflict with them. The Manhunter also acquired some allies such as the Batman and some others. In a final showdown, the Manhunter, the Batman and their allies invaded Council headquarters and defeated the forces of the Council. One of the Coucil members though managed to fire a fatal burst of intense radiation at the Manhunter. The dying Manhunter then used the Council member's psionic helmet to destroy Council headquarters killing the Manhunter, his clones and the Council members. The Batman and the Manhunter's allies were able to escape and survive the explosion. While most of the Manhunter's clones were killed, at least two clones have appeared as the Manhunter.
Clones of Paul Kirk
Secret Society of Super-Villains
A clone of Paul Kirk that survived first appeared in the Secret Society of Super-Villains #1 in 1976. This clone used the name Manhunter and formed the Secret Society of Super-Villains under orders from Darkseid. This clone died at the hands of Darkseid when the clone attempted to kill Darkseid.
The last surviving clone of Paul Kirk first appeared in the Power Company: Manhunter #1 in 2002. He was a member of the Power Company. DePaul was murdered by Mark Shaw who was also known as the Manhunter and the Privateer. Shaw was deranged, assumed the identity of Dumas and was murdering other Manhunters.
Powers and Equipment
While originally he had no superpowers, Paul Kirk was an above average athlete and possessed superior tracking skills. When the Council appropriated Paul Kirk's body, Dr. Oka modified Kirk's genetics and gave him a healing factor that allowed Kirk's body to repair itself.
After escaping the Council, Kirk went to Nairobi and had one of the world's finest weapons makers craft his arsenal which included a 1916 Mauser (with shoulder stalk and silencer), throwing knifes, throwing stars and Bundi Dagger, all made from super strong alloy.