Monday, August 22, 2005

MANHUNTER #13

... and the OMAC virus continues to spread at a rate to which avian flu can only aspire.

This was a fast-paced issue with two threads working toward each other, great snark and action... that was nonetheless confounding and frustrating and readable only through the sheer talent of Marc Andreyko.

Comic book geeks and those who aspire to that station were undoubtedly pleased with the lengthy lesson in the Manhunter legacy, the second one of the arc. (If they're not still fuming at the culling of the Manhunters or the bits of retconning done.) But while it was interesting from the historical perspective, I'm not quite sure what it has to do with either the story or the title as a whole.

I understand the desire to tighten the threads between the various Manhunters in the DCU, especially during a time in the DCU's history where the driving theme seems to be "The Past Will Come Back to Bite You In the Ass". And the Manhunters do need some unknotting, especially if Geoff Johns is going to be using the space version over in Green Lantern. But all of this expository info-dumping, even handled as well as it has been (and it has been handled well), seems an odd choice of priority when there is so much more about Kate that we do not know. I keep thinking back to how James Robinson handled the Starman legacy when he started his series with Jack Knight, eventually tying in all of the various bearers of the title so that there was a continuity where once there had been none but always returning to Jack and developing him first and foremost.

Andreyko feels like he's cramming too much in by comparison to Robinson's book, spending a lot of time telling readers things that Kate doesn't know and doesn't seem to need to know to perform as a Manhunter. Mark Shaw's history is certainly relevant, but unless it's going to tie into Infinite Crisis, dragging Kirk Paul's clones and the rest of it into things only muddies the water.

As for the rest of the story, it was pretty entertaining all considering. Dylan's superhuman ability to be embarrassed by women kicks in again, but, as usual, he perseveres through his latest humiliation with a combination of aplomb and cheekiness. He and Cameron Chase work the geek angle to try to save Kate and in the process save this issue from turning into yet another advertisement for Infinite Crisis and OMAC Project. Well, them and the lady-of-a-certain-age who thinks her temporary transformation into an OMAC was a residual hot flash.

Showing up in every book, no matter how irrelevant -- and I don't think you can get more irrelevant than Batgirl #66 -- the OMACs have become so omnipresent that their appearance is about as unexpected as a roach in a Manhattan apartment. And about as welcome. Hell, they're even showing in Captain America.

Chase and Dylan stumble across the OMAC files in the DEO's computer and then Kate's standoff with the unstable Mark Shaw gets interrupted by an OMAC, an appearance kept from the purely farcical by the thing's seeming inability to distinguish which one of the two is actually Shaw -- the lunatic running around dressed as Dumas or the one in the Manhunter outfit carrying Shaw's staff.

Despite the above griping, it wasn't a terrible issue. Penciler-du-mois Brad Walker's art looked good in the flashback panels, but I was unimpressed with the present-day panels. This title has been spoiled with the art, starting out with Jesus Saiz and then getting fill-in art from Javi Pina (and if the rumor of Stephen Sadowski joining the title is true...) and Walker's more traditional, softer lines end up softening the story a bit too much by taking away too much of the grit and shadow.

Next month brings the end of the arc as well as more Infinite Crisis tie-in. I hope more of the former than the latter, but with DC just now getting around to soliciting the first TPB of this title for November, we can imagine where the priorities rank.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Danny said...

Kate's standoff with the unstable Mark Shaw gets interrupted by an OMAC, an appearance kept from the purely farcical by the thing's seeming inability to distinguish which one of the two is actually Shaw -- the lunatic running around dressed as Dumas or the one in the Manhunter outfit carrying Shaw's staff.

That may prove useful in a later scene. Imagine if everyone dressed up like Batman...

Mon Aug 22, 12:22:00 PM EDT  

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