Yesterday, CBR News talked with “Manhunter” writer Marc Andreyko about the difficulties that the critically acclaimed DC Comics series faces. But with the upcoming one year time jump in all the DC super hero comics, Andreyko hopes that fans will use this “jump on” point to get onboard with one of DC’s most nuanced female characters. If you want to know what’s next for Kate Spencer, the titular heroine, then you’ve come to the right place.
“I can’t be too specific without spoiling the fun, but I can say that every single character in the cast has gone thru major changes in the past year,” explains Andreyko. “Some are logical, some are shocking, some are totally out of left field, but answers will be coming soon. I hope.”
DC’s previews have hinted at Kate becoming more infamous that we’ve seen and some have worried she’ll become a darker hero, in the mold of the Punisher. “Kate has never been a psycho like the Punisher,” said Andreyko. “She is someone who believes in the court system, but knows it isn’t infallible. When particularly heinous metas thwart justice, she does what she believes is the responsible and right thing: she ends the danger they pose.”
The notion of justice espoused in the pages of “Manhunter” is quite different than the notions of justice seem in other superhero comics. Readers need not worry that Andreyko is using the series as his soapbox, as he explains that the complexities of the justice system and how they figure into “Manhunter.” “I am a believer in capital punishment in theory, but you have to admit it doesn’t work right now. It is a classist, racist and sexist system that loses any deterrent effect since it takes 20 years to work. But, in theory, I do believe that some people are not salvageable, or are evil, or however you want to quantify it. Some people can never be around fellow humans. And since incarceration for life is a costly burden on the tax payers, why should we have to pay for it? Once again: in theory, I think the victims’ rights should supercede those of the bad guy.
“There is no message to the series per se. I just like exploring the nuances and weird realities of the super-hero world,” continued Andreyko. “Getting to do that in a real city adds to the fun. The closest thing to a message I want to get across would be that the old standard ‘heroes don’t kill’ ain’t necessarily so. The issue is far more complex than that and Kate enables such exploration.”
The series has been getting involved heavily with the DCU over the last year, from an “Identity Crisis” tie-in to JSA guest appearances. Some might feel burdened by these guest stars, but Andreyko loves having more toys in the sandbox. “Being right in there in the DCU is a huge plus,” said Andreyko. “It gives me such a rich history and cast of characters to play with. Each of the icons in the DCU and their respective supporting casts, react differently to Kate as her existence forces them to look at the function of these superbeings.
“And, how cool is it that I get to write Superman or Batman or Hawkman or Wonder Woman or….y’know? [smiles]”
The revelation of Kate’s ties to the JSA has caused some controversy and Andreyko says its not quite over yet. And that revelation that Obsidian is gay? Oh, the scribe talks about both, saying, “Kate’s lineage was originally going in a totally different direction, but the character I wanted to use was unavailable. I was kinda bummed at first, but after doing some research and finding a new family tree for Kate, I’m glad the first choice fell through. What is in store for Kate as she delves into her ancestry will surprise everyone (I hope!). It ties together a lot of dangling threads in an organic and unexpected way. her family history is, by no means, anywhere near done being explored.
“As far as Obsidian goes, it’s something I wanted to do from the beginning of the book. As soon as I came up with the character of Damon Matthews (Kate’s co-counsel), I knew I wanted him to have a superhero boyfriend. I felt a responsibility to portray a gay man who was simply gay. Not a bashing victim or an AIDS sufferer or a drag queen or a tortured suicidal soul. Just an average guy who is gay. no big deal. Obsidian was a favorite character of mine (I loved ‘Infinity, Inc.’) and Gerard Jones planted the seeds about Todd’s sexuality almost a decade ago. DC happily signed off on the idea and voila!”
The series hasn’t changed just through the power of Andreyko’s pen: the new pencils of artist Javier Pina have had an impact on the series as well. “Javi actually is an artist in the same studio as Jesus [Saiz, previous artist], so it was a logical place to turn. Jesus, being the co-creator of Kate, is an available resource for Javi and Fernando (the inker/finisher, as well as a fellow studiomate), if need be. And I have been thrilled with what Javi and Fernando have been doing each month.”
For some critically acclaimed, yet sales challenged series such as Marvel Comics’ “She-Hulk,” a relaunch of the series has been the key to increasing the audience. If fans have learned anything, it’s to not expect the expected from Andreyko. “Well, if this book gets cancelled, I’d be thrilled to have a relaunch!” he smiles. “But, given my druthers, I’d like this one to keep going and be the Manhunter title with the longest run. That being said, I try to keep ‘Manhunter’ very accessible to new readers (and a bunch of my non-comics friends who read ‘Manhunter’ let me know if I’m getting too obscure).”
And if you needed any more reasons to check out “Manhunter,” well guess what? “Manhunter” promotes world peace. “Readers should check out ‘Manhunter’ because it is a book that will defy their expectations going in. It is well-crafted, done with passion and embraces the DCU fully. (And there’s that “no-risk, one issue” thing, too.) Plus, if they pick it up and ‘Manhunter’ becomes a huge seller, think of the satisfaction and humanitarian warmth they’ll feel! It’ll be like saving an endangered species!
“And the world peace angle comes into play because as long as I’m doing ‘Manhunter,’ I won’t have to go on a multi-state crime spree or up in a bell tower with a high-powered rifle! (joke — don’t call the FBI or anything…..)”
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