The preceding issue left us with Blue Beetle and Manhunter squaring off. This issue doesn’t miss a beat and jumps right in.
As readers of “Blue Beetle” know, the scarab — which is Reach technology and provides Beetle with his armor and powers — doesn’t like Green Lanterns. Turns out, it really doesn’t like Darkstars. A Darkstar uniform is the base of Kate Spencer’s Manhunter gear. Don’t know what a Darkstar is? Well, gentle reader, fear not, because Andreyko makes a point of having his lead character add an investigation into the role of Darkstars to her agenda. Expect to see that in future issues.
“Manhunter” is working hard to be the gateway book for the DC Universe. Outsiders, unfamiliar with the book or other characters, are expected to pick this up and see bits and pieces they recognize from other media or previous series. This issue alone features appearances, cameos, and insinuations of the following characters: Blue Beetle, Iron Munro, Phantom Lady, La Dama, Joker, Mr. Bones, and the Crime Doctor.
Andreyko does a splendid job of making this series approachable to the uninitiated. People who happen upon this book via word of mouth will undoubtedly find a book they can enjoy, as it has a cinematic pace to it and features believable characters acting believably (case in point: Blue Beetle’s reaction to a corpse).
For the seasoned DC reader, however, there are cookies and Easter eggs galore. This is the book that traverses all camps, pulling a little from column “A” and more from column “B”, blending it and adding an Infinity Inc. reference in as the topping.
This issue is thick, but Gaydos does a solid job of rendering it out, even if some of his arrangements lack visual punch. Again, the book carries cinematic storytelling into the four-color world. Kate Spencer and La Dama are not rendered as tracings from the latest “Victoria’s Secret” catalog and they shouldn’t be. The book is stronger for it.
As mentioned, the book has a LOT going on, with guest appearances and subplots, so it makes a daunting read as a first issue. Hopefully, however, the antecedent issue is still available for folks to track down.
That said, I plan to continue to review “Manhunter” every month, but with the next issue I hope to go a little more in depth to help readers adjust to this gem that needs reader support to survive on the comic stands.