Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: Manhunter #15

 Welcome again to Leviathan Wednesday, a look back at Mark Shaw, Leviathan. In this blog series I have been looking at Mark Shaw's comic history from Manhunter to Privateer to Manhunter again. We also look at his history from hero to criminal to hero/bounty hunter.

I have to say I have been enjoying this look back as I try to piece together why Shaw becomes Leviathan. Today I look at Manhunter #15, one issue in the late 80s solo series. 

Now I have been amazed at this series as it has been, so far, an appropriate foundation for the Leviathan turn. Every issue has been showing Shaw being lured into missions by spy agencies, betrayed by spy agencies, discovering hidden information, or glomming onto new tech. No wonder he became Leviathan.

But another thing that has become more and more evident is the physical beating Shaw has taken in these adventures. It is one thing to be duped by shadowy cabals. It is another thing to be battered and nearly killed over and over. Shaw, as Leviathan, says he is trying to protect humanity from hidden information, super heroes and super villains, and the different spy agencies in operation. Some of that has to come from his own brushes with death at the hands of these people.

Nothing shows that more than Manhunter #15, an issue by John Ostrander, Kim Yale, and Grant Miehm. Shaw is basically dying in this issue, pummeled by a supervillain after being clobbered by others just the issue before. No wonder he wants the world to change.

On to the book.

'Born Under a Bad Sign' tries to catch us up from the end of last issue. You may recall that Manhunter #14 was part of the Janus Directive storyline. The end of that issue has Manhunter seemingly shot to pieces by Kobra assassins who had already injured him in combat. That led to a confrontation with Kobra, one he barely survived.

But now we see Shaw on a new adventure. Wearing his new half-mask, we see him bloodied, his costume torn.

Turns out this is fever dream by Shaw.

He goes from fighting Kobra again in his mind to fighting Mirage to fighting Catman to fighting Kobra again. His mind reeling, we see Shaw fall. And the villain gloats about Shaw being mauled, poisoned, and dead.

Given that Shaw was going to take out Mirage for a bounty two issues ago and given these illusions, it is pretty clear that Shaw is actually fighting Mirage.

And so reality sets in.

Believing he has won, Mirage has thrown Shaw's body into a dumpster. 

And it looks like Mirage might be right. Shaw's costume is in tatters. He's bruised and bloodied. He is dying, among the rats of this back alley.

His memories go back to his being betrayed by Amanda Waller. 

Remember, in that fight against Kobra, Amanda Waller promised she'd rescue Shaw if he called. When he sent out the alarm, she didn't respond. He almost died there too.

He vows never to work for Amanda Waller again.

I'll remind you that Amanda Waller is particularly singled out in Event Leviathan. All these stories show why she felt so concerned that she was going to be killed in that mini-series.

Across town, Mahunter's family and his girlfriend Sylvia Kandrey are waiting for him at a restaurant.

It is Mark's birthday. He wouldn't miss it. He must be in trouble.

His relationship with Kandrey is one I am enjoying unfold. Remember, as Leviathan, Shaw is quite charismatic, having a cultish hold over his followers. Seeing how he has been able to woo Sylvia so quickly is intriguing.

We again flashback to how Shaw ended up in the dumpster.

He had tracked Mirage down to the villain's headquarters. But despite this element of surprise, Mirage was able to activate his illusions. 

I love that the illusions are all of Manhunter's prior villains.

Unfortunately, Mirage takes little time to defeat our hero.

A smash across the face to remove the half mask and then unloading the clip.

With Shaw bleeding out, Mirage picks up the bounty hunter and puts him in the trash to die.

It is a little too easy. But when you see what Manhunter has gone through, I can see how he would be jaded.

Officer Kandrey has figured out how to hack into Mark's computer. Seeing the address for Mirage in Shaw's files, Sylvia decides she needs to go out and find her beau.

How quickly this desk jockey, this information guru, pulls out her gun and gets ready to go on the hunt.

You can see the fervor that Shaw can inspire.

And then this interesting tidbit!

Shaw is adopted.

His real father, Hugh Fletcher, called himself The Outlaw and was a thief. He was gunned down by police after a botched holdup.

Who knew that this was part of Shaw's history? I think this is the first place we heard about this.

Does his father being a thief who was killed by police somehow factor into who he became? Remember, he was a public defender first, someone dedicated to defend the rights of the accused. 

Remember, Shaw had word that Mirage was going to rob some ritzy dance club.

Sylvia brings Shaw's brother Jamie along. Together they both track down Mark in the alley and goad Mirage into coming out of hiding.

I am totally fascinated by Sylvia here.

Remember, when we first met her she was a shy, data analyst who didn't work the field. Now, in defense of Shaw, she is ready to gun someone down.

Luckily, before she has to shoot, Manhunter finally finds his baton and blasts Mirage into unconsciousness.

No surprise, our hero lives. Barely.

And so we reach the end of another issue.

Shaw was abandoned by Task Force X.

He was nearly killed by a super-villain.

We learn his father was a costumed crook shot down by police.

And he has a love interest now, someone who can hack computers and get information.

It all seems like this was almost predestined for him to become Leviathan.


Martin Gray said...

Great recap and analysis. You really have me itching for a collection of Manhunter, I just ignored the series at the time. It’s a shame it wasn’t, so far as I can see, collected.

Bostondreams said...

Looks like we are finally getting that Followup to Event: Leviathan!