12-Month Trades #6: "Manhunter, Vol. 1-2"

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12-Month Trades is where I'd like to see the whole run of something in trade paperbacks, a year of issues at a time. Think of these as sort of like Marvel's Classic trades: no frills with the names - just the title and a volume number, and that's it.

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This time around, I'm looking at Manhunter (1988). Manhunter as a character name is a cool concept, and it's been through several incarnations at DC. For me, the story of Paul Kirk is the best, the Kate Spencer series was okay, but the series with Mark Shaw had some awesome potential. If a comic book hero is measured by his villains, then we need a huge unit of measure for Shaw, because Dumas is one of the coolest. The original Dumas was an assassin on par with Deathstroke, and Manhunter wisely began and ended the series with him (although what Dumas becomes would surprise you).

Aside from Dumas, Shaw didn't really have a regular rogues gallery, because the Mark Shaw Manhunter was a bounty hunter, so he was supposed to be constantly chasing the next villain, including Captain Cold, Count Vertigo, and Catman. Unfortunately for the series, it was caught up in the Invasion! event (three official issues, and two unofficial aftermath stories), then had a break where he fought Catman (who was not the fan favorite then that he is now), and then had a one issue part in The Janus Directive (a story arc I think deserves its own TPB). After all that, it limped along a few issues into its final story arc, Saints and Sinners (a last hurrah with the return of Dumas, that also deserves its own TPB).

For all of those negatives, Shaw's struggles with Dumas hold up this entire series for me. Although Paul Kirk could easily be brought back in spectacular fashion, his story had a definite ending. Kate Spencer, although I liked her, just kind of seemed like Huntress-lite to me. I think that Mark Shaw has the most potential for comeback, especially since developments in the Kate series have given Shaw tenous connections to Azrael (and, oh-ho, the Order of St Dumas), nevermind his original connections to the secretive, robot Manhunters. I think this series should be collected in its entirety, for the express purpose of reaquainting fans with this character, in preparation for a comeback. That might just be a dream on my part, but it's good to dream.

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Proposed Title:Manhunter, Vol. 1.
TPB Cover:M #1.
Collecting 12 Issues:Manhunter (1988) #1-12.

Covers (click to enlarge):

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I'd use the cover to #1 for the TPB cover, just because it's a nice character shot, and it reminds me of the style of the Invincible TPB covers.

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Proposed Title:Manhunter, Vol. 2.
TPB Cover:M #24.
Collecting 12 Issues:Manhunter (1988) #13-24.

Covers (click to enlarge):

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For the Volume 2 cover, I'd be tempted to go with #13 or #17, just because they show Catman & Batman, respectively, but I always feel like that's a cheat, when the teaser character isn't in a majority of the story. So here, I'd go with either #18, or #24. My preference is #24, because the end of Manhunter is pretty much what most of this half of the series is about.

So what do you think? Would you want to read the story of Mark Shaw, Manhunter?

Would you buy this series, if it were reprinted in TPB? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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Thanks again!

2 Comments
2 Comments
Posted by Donovan Montgomery

Considering I own the first half of this series, I definitely like this idea. and that last arc with Dumas looks really good, didn't even see these issues till now.

Posted by cbishop

@Donovan Montgomery: Manhunter was really cool, and the stories with Dumas were awesome. Like I said in the blog though, it takes a really weird turn at the end, but I think maybe they did it just because they knew the series was getting cancelled.