The Manhunter Special #1
Written by: Keith Giffen and Dan Didio
Layouts by: Keith Giffen
Art by: Mark Buckingham
Colors by: Chris Sotomayor
Cover by: Bruce Timm and Steve Buccellato
The Demon and the Infernal Prisons
Writing and Art by: Sam Humphries and Steve Rude
Colors by: John Kalisz
Previously: In 1942, Jack Kirby introduced the crime fighter known as Paul Kirk, The Manhunter, a big game hunter who returned home to fight crime, adding another vibrant character on the long list of creations that make Kirby deserving of the title The King of Comics.
This special doesn’t waste any time, starting at what appears to be the end of one of Manhunters cases, as he ambushes a group of classic looking criminals overseeing an illegal shipment of contraband. He beats up wave after wave of bad guy, the whole time making jokes, telling his story and talking to nobody in particular, as costumed heroes tend to do. When there’s finally one goon, Manhunter begins to interrogate him, taking a certain pleasure in the idea of beating the truth out of him.
As The Manhunter accosts his criminal, he is heard by two figures standing on a rooftop nearby. They are Sandman and his sidekick Sandy. (Not The Sandman from last week’s Kirby Special, and not Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, it’s a different Sandman, the first Sandman. Don’t worry about it too much) They don’t approve of Manhunter’s violent methods, and decide to educate him on the error of his ways. The pair descend on The Manhunter and begin to lecture him, which he doesn’t take kindly to. Manhunter comes to blows with Sandman and Sandy, and they fight each other as they discuss the merits of their different vigilante styles. The Manhunter manages to escape and lose the heroes, causing Sandman to swear that next time they meet, he’ll stop Manhunter. Manhunter runs off into the night, as the issue ends with him continuing to patrol his city for crime.
After the Manhunter story is a backup featuring Etrigan The Demon. It’s a fun little story about Jason Blood trying to acquire an exorcism to free him from his bond with Etrigan, causing him to reminisce about his history with The Demon. The special then closes with some reprints of some old Jack Kirby stories from the Golden Age!
Thoughts on the issue:
This issue makes for a nostalgic little one-shot. The vast majority of the Manhunter story is him punching people over and over while talking his way through the story, which is an apt description of most Golden Age stories. The cameo of Sandman and Sandy was fun and unexpected, and made for a more insightful story than expected. Giffen and DiDio pair well to evoke Kirby’s voice, just as Giffen and Buckingham effectively replicate his art style. It’s a decent tribute, if not a little standard.
One Last Thing:
It’s a little odd to see Etrigan speaking without rhyming, but that was a character element added after Jack Kirby’s time.