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Manhunter #2

Posted: Friday, October 1, 2004
By: Shawn Hill



“Parenthood”

Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artists: Jesus Saiz (p), Jimmy Palmiotti (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
Yeah, so she kills super-villains and feels good about it. She’s also a mom!

Comments:
I realize I shouldn’t be enjoying this so much. I mean, self-proclaimed “star federal prosecutor” Kate is a raging bitch. She smokes. She has no guilt about taking the law into her own hands. As a mom, she sucks. She’s a difficult, annoying person whose personal life is a shambles, when she stops to remember she should have one. But, damn if this isn’t one tightly-constructed and solid little issue.

What’s interesting:
There’s a sense that someone’s thought about this. I mean, if Kate were a man, all of this would be by-the-book police behaviour. She doesn’t seem to know she’s a woman. Her gender doesn’t enter her mind at all (though I suppose it does ours through a Ripley-esque extended underwear scene). Andreyko turns the tables so much that it’s Kate’s ex-husband who has all the annoyed ex-wife lines in their stock custody argument. It’s funny.

And in a way, none of that is the point of the issue. Kate isn’t going to change the way she is, not without a much bigger wakeup call. She’s got bigger fish to fry. Prosecuting within the bounds of the law wasn’t enough her, despite apparently being the winningest legal eagle around. She donned the costume and picked up the meta-weapons because she wanted to, because that was the next step in accomplishing her goals. Which seem to be, in a misunderstanding of Batman, the complete elimination (not just permanent containment) of her enemies. Girlfriend is serious about this.

And she’s not really that good at it yet. For while her conscious mind knows what she’s doing, she begins the issue with one of the best dream sequences in memory. This revelatory tableau uses Batman’s rogues’ gallery to enact the fears and doubts she pretends not to have. Girlfriend is seriously messed up, and it won’t be long before her demons enter her waking hours as well. She’s got that kind of problem.

Also interesting:
Saiz’s art has the efficient clarity of Ivan Reis’, or of any of the JSA pencillers. He finds a darkness appropriate to this series, a film noir tone that befits his hard-boiled gumshoe leading lady, and especially the extreme villains Manhunter is starting to attract. In fact, he’s almost reaching a J.H. Williams level of expressive clarity in certain panels, though he still falls short of the style Jae Lee masters on the covers.



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