Manhunter #3: Origins
by Marc Andreyko, Javier Pina (DC Comics, 2007)

A couple of volumes back, I pondered the likelihood that Kate Spencer, an intelligent and highly successful federal prosecutor, would saunter into the evidence room and lift a super-powered costume and weapon without bothering to find out who those items belonged to or what their powers were. It's even more unlikely that would then go after her prey without bothering to test the suit's limits and abilities.

Origins explains the background of Kate's suit, gauntlets and supercharged stick, but in an odd, unsatisfying way. Kate doesn't research the matter, she doesn't even flag down a passing hero to ask his opinion. Instead, writer Marc Andreyko just lays it out for the readers without Kate's involvement at all; apparently, she just stopped being curious.

This book also includes its portion of DC's overblown One Year Later storyline, in which every title was asked/forced to skip a year in continuity and posit what changes might have occurred in the meantime. In the case of Kate Spencer, they fumbled the ball.

When last we saw Kate's ex-husband, he was still jonesing for the past and they were engaging in a little post-divorce nookie. One year later, he's married to another woman who is about eight months pregnant, so I guess we can assume he got over Kate, met someone new, married and procreated in record time.

When last we saw Kate, she was a federal prosecutor devoted to the task of putting bad guys away (or, if they beat the rap, hunting them down and killing them later). One year later, she has inexplicably switched sides and works, a la Marvel's Matt "Daredevil" Murdock, as a defense attorney. No reasons for her sudden change of heart are provided. And her brutal defense of the homicidal Dr. Psycho is so completely out of character, I can't begin to imagine what the creative team was thinking.

This is still a good character and a good series, so let's hope they get back on track soon. This book, however, falls far short of expectations.

review by
Tom Knapp

9 August 2008

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