Manhunter (vol.2) #1 (1994)

Manhunter (vol.2) #1 (November, 1994)
“True Fiction”
Writer – Steven Grant
Artist – Vince Giarrano
Letterer – Clem Robins
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Archie Goodwin
Cover Price: $1.95

No man escapes the… well, you know.

Today we’re going to take a look at a book… that, if you ask me, was kinduva “blink and you’ll miss it”.  A volume of Manhunter that I sometimes forget even existed!

That being said… it’s also a volume of Manhunter that I’ve never read!  Let’s remedy that… at least for the first issue (not counting the zero ish), right now!

We open on our titular (though not yet named as such) Manhunter.  His head is full of some sorta purple prose… but it’s also confused.  There’s something about how these captions are written, where in a knee-jerk kinda way, I really wanna hate it… yet, I don’t.  He’s on the (wild) hunt for Doctor Malig (which might be a bit on the nose) because he needs his help to deal with a mythical Wild Huntsman… when he runs afoul of the motorcycle riding Butcher Boys.

They fight for a bit… and in a panel that I find funny, though I’m not sure it was meant to be, Manhunter tricks the baddies into firing on an over-sized curtain.  Gotta wonder if that’s a sort of commentary on how silly the extra-long capes of the day were.  Nah, I’m probably thinking too hard.  Made me chuckle regardless though!

Manhunter then steals their wheels… and bursts out a window.  Speeding toward the city, the Butcher Boys are unable to keep up.  And so, they report back to their “boss”, Goodish… who is apparently also keeping tabs on this Dr. Malig.

Suddenly, Manhunter bursts in through the window (this man has clearly never heard of a door)… he then beats up the Butcher Boys, and holds a pistol up to Goodish’s head.  The baddie tells his men to stand down, because he and “Bloodmoney” here are going to negotiate.

Our man(hunter) is confused… he doesn’t know who or what a “bloodmoney” is… and neither do I!  Goodish explains that he mistook him for a creep calling himself Bloodmoney… then unwittingly names our hero “Manhunter”.  We learn that Malig is up to his eyeballs in debt… which is why this “Bloodmoney” fella is after him.  Manhunter and Goodish decide to put their differences aside in the interest of getting Malig out of this jam.

After hands are shook, Manhunter leaves to make a phone call.  He’s checking in on a woman… perhaps one that he loves (the narrative captions can’t quite make up their mind) who is in a bad way having been somehow affected by that Wild Huntsman.

We stick with Chase (Lawler, the Manhunter) as he slinks around the dirty city.  He winds up at Petrucchio’s jazz club, where he chats up an old friend about trying to track down some “big deal” bookies.

His old pal hands him a guitar and tells him if he wants the info, he’s gotta “play to pay”.  And so, Chase takes to the stage and cranks out some blues tunes.  We can assume that his buddy gave him the line on the bookie he was looking for post-performance, because…

… next thing we know, Manhunter is attacking the biggest bookie in town!  This is Sammy Oberlin, and he’s the guy who… well, let’s be honest here, only wants what Dr. Malig owes him.  Sure, bookies might be a bit shady… but, a bet’s a bet, right?  Well, Manhunter doesn’t seem to think so… he grabs Sammy by the throat.

Then… Bloodmoney shows up… looking nothing like Manhunter.  Well, I guess they have a matching color scheme… but the costumes look completely different.  They fight for a bit, with Chase maintaining the upper hand.  Bloodmoney calls for a cease-fire (and cease-punching) to tell Manhunter that they’ll forgive Dr. Malig’s debts if he just walks away now.

Chase knows a good deal when he hears it… and also can’t see a trap when it’s right in front of him, so he accepts.  Oberlin asks Bloodmoney what he’s planning… to which, BM says he just shifted Malig’s debt onto their new masked friend… and interest is accruing.  Doesn’t seem the smartest thing to burden an unknown masked man with debt.  I wonder if I can somehow use that to write off my student loans.

We wrap up with Manhunter finally visiting Dr. Malig.  Malig claims to have seen him beating up Bloodmoney, and asks where he learned to fight.  It doesn’t take him long to deduce that Chase might’ve “found” the Wild Huntsman… and also, might have a piece of the Huntsman in him as well.

He suggests that Chase now has a lust for killing.  To prove otherwise, Manhunter violently grabs him by the collar and shouts in his face.  That’ll learn ‘im.  We close out with Manhunter questioning what he is becoming.

Hey, this feels like an Image book… and I’m not just saying that because our leading man sorta resembles… ya know, that guy.  And, don’t get me wrong… I know saying something feels “like an Image book” is usually some really damning “praise”, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it!

This was a pretty good issue.  It’s so weird seeing Vince Giarrano’s work here, especially if you know the kind of art he’s putting out nowadays.  The fella is phenomenal.

Our new Manhunter is a very means-to-an-end kinda dude.  He’s pretty quick to grab someone by their throat… and doesn’t really seem to give violence a second thought.  Now, if that doesn’t scream “90’s!”, right?  But here’s the thing… there’s this nebulous Wild Huntsman who might be causing Chase to act this way.  It sort of lampshades the entire deal… and I feel like, at least for now, that’s good enough.

Early on, I mentioned the sorta cringy captions… they’re really the sort of thing I should hate, but I don’t.  They give us pretty good insight as to what’s going on inside Chase’s muddled mind.  He’s literally editing his thoughts to best serve his goal.  It’s an interesting approach to storytelling… and I can’t say that I’ve really ever seen anything quite like it.

Gotta say, the whole “beating up the bookie” thing kinda bugs me.  I guess it works in a “shades of gray” sort of way… where Lawler isn’t exactly a good or bad guy… just a guy who needs something done.  I guess it’s just that a “bookie” lives in that gray area as well… not a good or bad guy… just a guy who makes lopsided “deals”.  I guess that just feeds into the world Grant and Giarrano are building… people using other people to get what they want.  I suppose it works.

Before we go… I suppose we ought to mention Manhunter’s costume, right?  Do we have to?  I mean, it’s a really cool design… but it’s almost certainly based on, ya know.  Either way… he looks cool, and I suppose it’s sorta-kinda got it’s own thing going to separate it from, that other guy.

Overall, not half-bad!  I was expecting to dislike this (or just not care) from the get-go, but found myself having a halfway decent time with it.  If you come across this on the cheap, it might be worth a look.  This issue is not yet available online (only #0 is)… but it shouldn’t be a tough… nor wild, “hunt” in the bins.

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