Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: Walter Simonson
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars
"Manhunter: The Special Edition" collects some of the finest comics ever created and published by Americans. Originally published in 1973 and 1974 in issues of "Detective Comics", "Manhunter" was a revival and reinvention of a Golden Age superhero of the same name. In the talented hands of writer Archie Goodwin--one of the greatest talents of American comics--and artist Walter Simonson, it was also a high-water mark not only in graphic storytelling but also in adventure fiction that has rarely been equalled in the 30 years since the material was first published. It is a book that every aspiring comic book creator should read carefully.
In 1946, mystery man Paul Kirk (aka Manhunter) is killed during an African safari. However, he awakens some 25 years later, healed and restored through the super-science of the Council, a group of World War II-era scienties bent on reshaping the world in their image. They hoped Kirk would serve as their chief enforcer of their will, but instead he dedicates himself to opposing their fascist goals. He is soon joined by a small group of allies, foremost among them being Christine St. Claire, a intelligent and sexy Interpol agent, and the mysterious Batman.
The "Manhunter" series reprinted in this book consists of six 8-page chapters and a 20-page climactic episode that chronicle events from Paul Kirk's ressurection through his final, cataclysmic showdown with the master of the Council. These stories are textbook perfect examples of how to tell a complex story in a serial format, with each installment managing to provide a stand-alone story while developing both the larger tale and the personalities of its cast of characters.
In addition to the original "Manhunter" series, the "Special Edition" reprint includes an interesting essay by Goodwin on the development of the series (reprinted from a 1979 collection of the series), as well as a new "Manhunter" story that Goodwin was working on at the time of his death and which Simonson finished and presented as a "silent" tale--just art and no words--in memory of Goodwin. These two items are great additions to an already fabulous package.
You can read all the classic "Manhunter" stories online by clicking here. Start with the earliest post first, of course, as blogs always read in "reverse order" when it comes to series of posts.