And Then I Read: MANHUNTER OVERSIZE SPECIAL #1

Image © DC Entertainment. Main story: Keith Giffen and Dan Didio with Mark Buckingham. Demon backup: Sam Humphries and Steve Rude.

Note that I lettered the Demon backup, so I won’t be reviewing that, just the main story.

If you’ve read many golden age comics, even ones by Kirby, you’ll soon find that the writing is not what we would expect today. It tends to be shallow and obvious, stringing together a bare-bones plot to support as much fighting and violence as possible, at least as far as superhero comics go. There are exceptions, of course, but not here. The writers on this story seem to have taken those guidelines to heart, and added very little to them. Fill in a little background on Manhunter on the first page, then it’s on to the first battle with criminals. The ruckus attracts two more superhero creations, Sandman and his sidekick Sandy. Aside from costume colors and Manhunter’s steel mask, there’s not a lot to distinguish between them, especially when they start arguing and fighting with each other, which takes up most of the rest of the story.

The art, on the other hand, is quite different. Artists Bruce Timm (on the cover) and Mark Buckingham (interiors) have studied and learned from Kirby, incorporated what they’ve learned into their own styles, and produced work which is clearly an amalgam of both, and in my opinion, much better than most of Kirby in the 1940s. Your mileage may vary, but I like the art on the main story and cover a lot.

And, while I’m not reviewing the backup, I think you’ll probably like it. There are some short Kirby reprints, too.

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