Manhunter #2: Trial By Fire
by Marc Andreyko, Javier Pina, Jesus Saiz (DC Comics, 2007)

Although there's a big fight in the beginning with the goes-to-pieces villain Shrapnel, Trial By Fire is less about the vigilante Manhunter and more about her alter-ego, federal prosecutor Kate Spencer. In keeping with events in DC Comics' big Identity Crisis event, Spencer is in court trying to put the Shadow Thief away for the murder of flaming hero Firestorm.

The courtroom scenes move a little more slowly than your usual comic-book adventure, but the trial does include testimony by the likes of Superman and Hawkman, and hey, that's gotta be worth something.

Meanwhile, the long and hallowed history of the Manhunter identity takes a series of blow as someone begins killing everyone who ever bore that name. An investigative reporter begins looking for some dirt on Spencer. Kate's best friend, DEO agent Cameron Chase, pays a welcome visit, and Kate's estranged father, long believed dead, begins turning up in the wrong places.

And we learn that Spencer's sidekick, the former bad-guy henchman Dylan Battles, is something of a stud with the ladies.

A small but glaring error is the appearance of high-priced mercenary assassin Cheshire, who is hired to make Kate's life miserable just moments after villains note they don't have enough funds to "afford the Bug-Eyed Bandit." Is Cheshire doing the job gratis for some undisclosed reason?

Trial By Fire is not a book that will grab you by the scruff and make you read it. It's interesting, it's entertaining and it continues to expand and explore the still fresh characters of Kate Spencer and her supporting cast. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next.

review by
Tom Knapp

12 July 2008

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