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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

1st Issue Special 5 - Manhunter Mark Shaw debuts

Jack Kirby and Bruce Berry update an old Kirby series from the 1940s in 1st Issue Special 5 (Aug 75). Back in the day, Kirby had taken the Paul Kirk Manhunter series and given the hero a new costume and more dynamic stories. Paul Kirk had been revived a year earlier in the pages of Detective Comics, as a clone, and been given an excellent run in that book.

Kirby opens this issue with a Manhunter dressed in the costume he had designed back in the 40s. We follow this man as he penetrates the lair of the Chopper and defeats the villain.

This Manhunter is never given a name, though the fact that he is quite old, and has been operating as Manhunter for many years, makes one suspect that, in Kirby's mind if not DC continuity, this was Paul Kirk.

Then we get introduced to a young, crusading attorney, Mark Shaw. He is meeting with his wealthy uncle, and expressing the frustration he feels at the way criminals take advantage of the laws to escape justice. The uncle tells him of the ancient sect of Manhunters, and shows him a lion medallion, which Mark can use to contact the Shan.

Meanwhile the aging Manhunter heads to a temple to meet with his leader, the Grandmaster of the Manhunters. Both agree that it is time for a new Manhunter to take his place, and conveniently this is when Mark speaks into the medallion. Mark is given his own Manuhunter costume, and heads out to fight crime.

The Grandmaster and aging Manhunter watch Mark on a monitor, and are pleased with what they see. The story doesn't really come to an ending, setting up Mark to face a gang boss, the Hog.

Mark Shaw, as Manhunter, would return a couple of years down the road in Justice League of America. There, Steve Englehart would take the notion of the Manhunter sect that Kirby introduced here and turn it on its end, making the Manhunters far less benevolent than they appear.

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