Cover of Detective Comics No. 443 ‘Batman and Manhunter together for the first — and last — time?! Art by Jim Aparo
One of the comic series that I’ve enjoyed re-reading is Manhunter by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson.
The “All-New” Manhunter ran just seven episodes, as a back-up feature in DC’s Detective Comics issues 437 through 443, published bi-monthly November 1973 through November 1974.
Manhunter is definitely a super-hero comic book – not particularly deep or thought-provoking, but I think it’s a cut above the somewhat formulaic fare of its time. The writing is intelligent; the pace and plot are good. In many of the chapters, the timelines are non-linear (think Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction), with plenty of flashbacks and backstories filling in background for the reader. There are clever surprising plot twists and a bit of contrasting humor. The seven-chapter story is a cohesive, building whole.
And the art is excellent. Walt Simonson has a distinctive style – comic-y, but just a bit stylized. Simonson, a bit like his contemporary Paul Gulacy, playing with panel shapes, pans, overlaps, camera zooms, and more – in a way that can be described as cinematic… though tranalated into and enriching the visual language of comics. From the Manhunter series on, Simonson was an artist who I liked and followed… though it’s been a while, so I forget what all he drew. Thor and Metal Men, I recall, and plenty of covers. (more…)