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Manhunter

Reviewed by Ogre3000

People ask me, "What comics are you reading now? What's your favorite comic? What is the best story you ever read?" And without skipping a beat, I would tell them Archie Goodwin (not Nero Wolfe's legman & sidekick) & Walter Simonson's fantastic creation (or re-creation rather) of the "Manhunter." The Manhunter was the creation of Jack "The King" Kirby. His real name Paul Kirk, a "great white hunter" that fought criminals & Nazis before WW II (in the Golden Age) and, after his retirement, disappeared.

Goodwin & Simonson's 'sequel' (which originally ran as backup stories in Detective Comics # 337-343 back in the '70s) picks up in his retirement. On safari he aims at a huge bull elephant, but finds he cannot shoot having lost his desire as a hunter. But the elephant sees him & he is trampled & near-death.He believes he sees the Angel of Death coming for him but it turns out to be a helicopter that takes his shattered body away...

Years & years pass by & Kirk sees the world pass by in a long bizarre dream-like state. Finally, he is brought out of that state & is fully healed. He discovers that his miracle of a new life is due to a secret council that presents itself as wanting to secretly guide & help the world to peace. After he has been retrained in martial arts & weapons & discovers he has healing powers, higher strength & endurance beyond a regular man, he goes on a few missions for the council & then discovers they are evil & bent on world domination. And worse, they have (and this was years before even the original Star Wars movie came out) have cloned him, to make an army of thugs to enforce their will.

He fights his way out & escapes & is pursued all over the globe. There is one story chapter that only has a small amount of dialogue & mostly sound FXs called "Cathedral Perilous" that I have read so many times I know it by heart. Kirk fights for his life & only a small boy with his obnoxious (blissfully ignorant to the deadly battle raging) tourist parents is the only witness...

Finally the chase leads to Gotham City & a team-up with Batman that is simply incredible. Simonson's version of the Dark Knight is very gothic for the time-- very moody & dark (Batman still suffered the TV series "ZAP!" "POW!" influence well into the '70s). And it leads to a showdown with the crime syndicate & Kirk extracts a final vengeance that even tops James Bond, simply fantastic...

The series was reprinted twice (it's still in print, you just have to order it), in the collected (in the '80s) & a newer special edition (with a gold foil cover & a new story written by Goodwin before his death) in 1999. You can order it at Amazon.com by clicking this link: MANHUNTER.

If you want to read the best comic ever written (in my opinion of course), this is the one for you...

--- OGRE3000

Editor's Note: Amazon.com is not offering the graphic novel directly anymore, but that link will get you to alternate sellers that go through amazon, and at this time (8/1/2010) some are even offering "new" copies. DC Comics still has it listed in the graphic novels section of their site, but no link to buy from them, so if interested in this title I suggest you inquire at your local comics shop - Galen.

 

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Author
Archie Goodwin

Artwork
Walter Simonson

Published
DC Comics '73-'74
Collected in 1979, 1984 & 1999

Awards
Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award for Favorite Reprint Graphic Album (2000)

Available from alternate sellers through amazon.com