Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: Manhunter #16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, And 34

How close are we to the end of Leviathan Wednesdays?

Well Checkmate #1 is out in 2 weeks. So we are really close. 

Today I basically wrap up what happened to Mark Shaw in the remainder of the Kate Spenceer Manhunter series. The last storyline in Manhunter, reviewed here, wrapped up the major Mark Shaw plot. In that, we learned that Mark Shaw had been programmed by the DEO to have two personalities, his own and Dumas. Much of the Manhunter history was fiction. The DEO had created nanites that when injected could rewrite someone's personality, making them think they were Mark Shaw and encoding his skills. That tech was then enhanced to create the OMAC warriors. Shaw is damaged. And the DEO is the cause. Hmmm ...

Shaw remains in the Manhunter series, showing up now and then. What happens to him is worth reviewing as it shows how Shaw is a victim. It shows why Shaw is a bit unhinged. And it shows why he would be on the road to becoming Leviathan. 

These issues are written by Marc Andreyko with art mostly by Javier Pina and Michael Gaydos. What is amazing are the array of cover artists for these issues including but not limited to Howard Chaykin, Arthur Adams, Kevin Nowlan, and others. Amazing.

But the thing is after this deep dive, I feel like Shaw has been abused by the system and the DCU. Now wonder he wants to lash out.

On to the books and a quick peek.

We start out by seeing that in the aftermath of the last storyline, Shaw has moved in with Dylan Battles, Kate's tech guy.

And he is starting to serve a purpose. He is helping train Kate.

I am pretty impressed with Kate. She was a prosecuting attorney. To see her be in this condition and to fight like this is truly incredible.

But he isn't 'cured'.

Things are still wrong.

Here we see him talking to himself, talking about how he won't give in to whatever these voices are telling him to do.

We also see him skulking in the dark, hiding in the shadows.

But he is sliding into a normal life. 

Here we learn he has a part time job at Home Depot. That's like regular suburban life.

But he is Mark Shaw. Nothing is going to be easy. Nothing is going to be simple. He isn't going to get peace.

Here, while jogging on the beach and even flirting with young women when he runs into ... a dog named Thor. (Remember, Thor was the dog of the first Manhunter and was killed by 'Dumas'/Shaw.
But then he is hit with a tranquilizer dart with someone with boots that look Dumas-ish.

He awakens away from the site. 

But now he is haunted by visions.

He sees people in cloaks, wearing Manhunter masks, and telling him to join them. But they also have a lot of fleur-de-lis symbology. 

Remember, Dumas had a lot of fleur-de-lis symbols in his armor.

With growing blackouts and with visions driving him to the east, Shaw decides the best thing to do for his newfound friends is to leave.

This way he can't inadvertently lose himself and become violent.

He is on a ship in the Bering Sea.

One thing I like about this is Shaw saying that he is finally taking charge of his life. He needs to do that, run towards something, not away from something.

Who is he? He needs to decide.
Perhaps this is the first step towards his new identity, that decision that he needs to take control.

In the Himalayas, Shaw wanders into a village.

Once there, the villagers recede and a new group becomes visible. These are cloaked warriors, armed and ready.

And they lead him away.

Are these some offshoot of Manhunters? Some disciples of Shaw's Dumas persona?


It is the Order of St. Dumas, the folks who trained Azrael.

So this is another shadowy organization trying to recruit Shaw to be their weapon.

It shows how people must recognize Shaw's ability to lead. He must be charismatic. And we know he is a good fighter.

We then get a short history of the Order of St. Dumas. 

I do find it interesting ... Dumas was Shaw's assasin personality. St. Dumas is the patron saint of the Azrael group. So interesting.

And it is interesting that they want to recruit Shaw because he survived the 'corruption' of his government. They want him to be there avatar.

But Shaw is fighting it. He doesn't want another identity ... or at least this identity.

He awakens back at home.

And the Order of St. Dumas is giving it the hard sell.

They leave the Azrael costume in his apartment. As someone used to wearing masks and adopting another identity, this must have been tempting.

As I have said, Shaw is damaged and broken.

He continues to hear these voices. He hears how they want him to join and become Azrael.

Is this the Order? Or is this Shaw's own mind? We know much of what he saw and believed in the past were delusions.

The visions grow in intensity until finally he slays an Order member, refusing to become Azrael.

But this man is just a vision. He isn't there.

Take note of this moment.

Shaw won't be taken in by another group to become their weapon. He won't be controlled by someone else.

In the end, he seems like he has a clearer head.

He heads back to Dylan's house to resume his life.

For me, this seems to be a turning point, again, for Shaw.  He has been controlled, brainwashed, beaten, and programmed by so many different groups. His identity has been utilized to create automatons that others have used as assassins and cannon fodder. 
But that seems behind him.
Now he seems like he is a master of his own destiny.
And I bet he is probably ticked off that he has been used this way.
Hmmmm ....


Martin Gray said...

It’s weird, I bought the entire Kate Shaw series and have no memory of this at all.

Still, the way you break down Shaw’s history makes his turn as Leviathan convincing. I wish the actual comics had spelled it out better!

Martin Gray said...

Shaw? Kate Spencer! Sorry.

Anj said...

Thanks Mart!

I still think he is so little known and all this occurs in a mid-selling book from the early 00s that the Leviathan mystery was basically unsolvable.

But knowing the clues were out there had you known this makes it go down a little easier.