Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: Manhunter #12 and Manhunter #13

Welcome to Leviathan Wednesday where I look at the character of Mark Shaw to see how he could become Leviathan. And trust me, if you were going to read one segment of this Supergirl blog side tour, it would be this one. Because if you want to see why Mark Shaw might hate secrets and spy agencies so much that he became a super-villain/anti-hero, this is the one. 

Today I look at Manhunter #12 and Manhunter #13. As I have said, writer Marc Andreyko really leaned into the history of the Manhunter legacy with this series. Sure Kate Spencer picked the name but it seemed random. Now, stuff is going to get real.

Andreyko does take a few liberties, re-writing a lot of what I have covered here before. But the re-imagining of the Manhunter timeline somehow works here. The question really is what is the actual DC history of Mark Shaw in the current post-New 52, post-Rebirth world? This probably has some impact given Shaw's hatred of Spencer in Event Leviathan. Hmm ...

The art in Manhunter #12 is by title regular Javier Pina and has the usual polished, clean feel. Love the cover, an homage to the classic Infantino Batman and Robin pin-up.  Manunter #13 has Brad Walker as a penciler. This is probably early in Walker's career. The art is really slick in that chapter, detailed and vibrant.

Settle in. A lot is revealed in these two issues but they work best reviewed together. On to the books.

We start with Cameron Chase and Josiah Power identifying the remains of Kirk DePaul. 

You may recall that the fight between DePaul and Dumas was pretty brutal. There were blood splatters all over the murder scene. So an investigation is ongoing.

We got the sense last issue that Mark Shaw wasn't in the best of conditions, unkempt and living in some dingy apartment.  

We see that the assumption is fact here.

Knowing the Manhunters are being killed, he hops in his car to drive cross country to warn the new Manhunter whoever they may be. Shaw is sleeping in his car when he is confronted by ... Manhunter robots?

His skill kick in and he begins to fight them. But perhaps he isn't as sharp as he once was. He gets knocked unconscious.

It is then we learn, these aren't Manhunters at all but police officers. 

Shaw is hallucinating and delusional. 

No surprise given all we have seen before. His life as Manhunter. His pretending to be Dumas. All points to madness.

Meanwhile, Chase informs Spencer about the Manhunter deaths. She knows that only two are left, Mark Shaw and the latest one. 

It seems to me that Chase is focusing in on Kate a bit too much with this Manhunter talk.

While they are talking word comes in. Mark Shaw has been arrested.

And he ain't talking. 

There is a bit of psychotic catatonia here. He hasn't said a word. He hasn't blinked.

Chase goes in to try and crack him leaving Kate alone with whatever evidence they found on Shaw.

It includes his Manhunter mask and baton. She now knows that her baton is Manhunter tech. 

Chase isn't getting anywhere with Shaw though. 

But when she mentions the new Manhunter, he moves. He looks irritated. 

This isn't going well. 

We end on a great cliffhanger.

Chase and Spencer switch off. 

Shaw recognizes Kate somehow as the last Manhunter, grabs her briefcase which holds her gear and uses her baton to blast out of the prison, taking her with him.

At the same time, the analysis of the blood at the DePaul murder scene is complete. It is Shaw's. 

The Dumas killing the Manhunters is Shaw. He is the hunter.

Which brings us to Manhunter #13, a sort of tie-in to the O.M.A.C. Project and Infinite Crisis. 

This was back in 2005 and DC was in creative alignment. Four minis were leading into Infinite Crisis. And OMACs went from weird Kirby creatures, to nanotech infused human warriors. 

Who knew that the origin might unfold here in Manhunter.

With Kate in Mark Shaw's clutches and missing, Cameron Chase drops the pretense.

She knows that Kate is Manhunter and she demands Kate's tech guy Dylan help her dig up all the dirt they can on Mark Shaw and the Manhunters.

Kate wakes up tied to a chair.

Shaw is there. But he is talking as if Shaw is another person all together. 

He has become Dumas. 

Or, at least for now, he is Dumas!

Dylan can hack into anything but Chase has been warned. 

She shouldn't be digging into Shaw's history. Should she find him, she is to neutralize him.

The Shaw problem runs deep. Remember, it was Sarge Steel who sent him out as Dumas to  begin with. What more did they do? And why are they so secretive even with their own agent?

Shaw meanwhile is truly unsettled here.

In one panel, he is Dumas, grilling Spencer for information on Shaw and wondering how she was able to activate the Manhunter gear.

In the next, he is Shaw is trying to protect Kate, worried that Dumas is there.

But where is this all coming from. 

It turns out that much of what we thought about the other Manhunters was wrong. 

Yes, there are Manhunter robots from space. But the government stumbled on it and used the tech they found to try and create their own soldiers.

The first was Dan Richards.

As time went on, they improved the tech creating the Paul Kirk Manhunters.

And then finally, they found Mark Shaw, the perfect candidate for their Manhunter training. His passion for justice primed him for their programming. 

That includes all the N'Lasa, Manhunter temple, and cult stuff. That was all made up, wired into his brain to keep him compliant.

Ahh N'Lasa, we barely knew ye.

But things get even nuttier.

Yes, Shaw's fractured personality was there. His time as Star Tsar and Privateer did happen.

But once back in the clutches of the government, Shaw is experimented on even further.

They brainwashed him even more, creating the Dumas personality within him. An arch-enemy he could never catch! A weapon the government could send out to do the wet works. 

No wonder Shaw is a frenetic mess. He has been programmed, reprogrammed, and split into multiple personas. All by the government. 

No wonder he becomes Leviathan.

Somewhere along the way, Shaw gets lost. 

So the government finds a new patsy. And there is Chase Lawler. 

Why the government would think a down on his luck rocker would make a great assassin is beyond me. Somehow the programming for Lawler creates the Wild Huntsman avatar. Calling himself Manhunter must have got the attention of Shaw. 

Because here comes the scene from Manhunter #12. That whole story of being in deep cover as Dumas. A lie. Just his insanity.

But OMACs? Why is an OMAC file intermingled with Shaw's.

As the fight intensifies between Shaw/Dumas and Spencer, Kate activates the Manhunter baton. 

And that triggers a hidden circuit that we have been hearing about this whole story. A homing signal for ... you guessed it ... OMACs.

Now even within the same panel, within the same word bubble, Shaw is flipping between his own personality and Dumas. He is crazed.

It looks like we are nearing the end of this fight, a fight that can only end with someone's death. 

But then another player enters the game.

An OMAC arrives. It has detected Mark Shaw and it is there to eliminate him. 

But does it detect Shaw? Or the tech Kate is using?

Whew ... that was a lot!

But now we know all the psychological damage that Shaw has been subjected to. And all at the hands of the DEO. No wonder that was one of his first targets in Event Leviathan

It all keeps coming back to Leviathan's motivations. He hates secrets. He hates spy organizations. He wants the truth to be visible to everyone. He is someone who has been used like a tool. And he has every reason to be angry. 

Andreyko rewriting the Manhunter histories is a slight tweak but not enough to derail what we know so much for it to be a complete reboot. And it dovetails so much with current history that it works.

No wonder he became Leviathan.

1 comment:

  1. "an homage to the classic Infantino Batman and Robin pin-up. "

    Do u mean the one from Batman#181, as shown here?

    Or something else? Thankx...