Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.
The other day, I wrote about Metamorpho's various deaths and resurrections, and I noted that one of the deaths that he suffered was during DC's 1988 crossover, Millennium. The idea of that story was that a group of Earthlings were being chosen to be the New Guardians of the Universe and the Manhunters, who hated the original Guardians, wanted to stop that from happening. They had received a store of information that let them know the secret identity of every superhero on Earth and so they placed spies close to the various superheroes so that when the time came, they could stop the superheroes from helping create the new Guardians, either by convincing the heroes to leave well enough alone or by actually physically attacking the heroes.
In other words, every DC superhero title had to pick a supporting cast member and have them turn out to be working for the Manhunters. That's a big ask, right? And so the various DC writers each had different reactions to the request, with a lot of them going for cop-outs, but a few actually sacrificing legit supporting cast members. Alphabetically (by the title of the book), I'll reveal the various Manhunter traitors and I'll note where they stood, cop-out wise.
Batman #415 (by Jims Starlin and Aparo)
Traitor: Commissioner Gordon
Cop-Out Level: 10 out 10
Here's the biggest cop-out of the bunch, where Batman shows up at Gotham City's police department and Jim Gordon starts shooting at him...
But then it turns out that Gordon was actually an android created by the Manhunters who filled in for the real Gordon...
If the goals of the Manhunters was just to keep an eye on superheroes, then pretty much any Gotham City cop would work here, right? And then you would have a character who was a legitimate Manhunter agent and not a fake android of Jim Gordon. I guess the problem was that there were so few big names that they had to toss in a cop-out like the Jim Gordon android to keep themselves from having no "oh man, THAT person is a Manhunter?!" shocks besides Suprman's Manhunter (which we'll get to later).
Blue Beetle #20 (by Len Wein, Ross Andru and Danny Bulanadi)
Cop-Out Level: 6 out of 10
Blue Beetle's Manhunter turned out to be a villain who was a relatively minor member of Beetle's Rogues Gallery, Overthrow...
Wein gets some credit for going in a surprising direction, but he loses a lot for it being such an unimportant character overall.
Booster Gold #24 (by Dan Jurgens and Ty Templeton)
Traitor: Dirk Davis
Cop-Out Level: 1 out of 10
Booster Gold was one of the books most heavily involved in Millennium, since Booster seems to join the Manhunters (don't worry, he doesn't really).
He realizes that one of his staff is a Manhunter when he arrives at his home and it begins to attack him...
It turns out that his Manhunter was Dirk Davis, his manager. Dirk had been Booster's manager since the series started and he appeared in the very first issue of the book, so this was a major character in the series...
Jurgens played as fair as you can with his choice, but to be fair to the other titles, Millennium also marked the end of Booster Gold's series, so Jurgens had room to be more aggressive with his cast changes, since the series was ending anyways.