First Issue Special #5 Retro Review

Reviewer: Mathan Erhardt
Story Title: Manhunter

Written by: Jack Kirby
Penciled by: Jack Kirby
Inked by: D Bruce Berry
Lettered by: D Bruce Berry
Colored by: Either Jack Kirby or D Bruce Berry
Edited by: Surprise; Jack Kirby
Published by: National Periodical Publications INC (AKA DC Comics)

Ah the cherished Retro Review, where I can dig into my limited treasure trove of the past to pick out a gem of a comic worth giving the spotlight to. This week it falls on the first appearance of Mark Shaw- The Manhunter.

The story begins with Manhunter deep within the bowels of the Cave of The Talking Heads. He has come there to face down the Chopper, a bad guy with a worse sense of fashion. If you can call a smock and huge mask fashion. Anyway, Manhunter has to deal with, talking heads that are displayed in the cave (hence it’s name), and not only do some of these heads talk, but they also shoot energy. But will that stop Manhunter from bringing the Chopper, a killer ten times over, to justice? Nope and he continues on.

He gets caught in a trap but his trusty baton saves him. He shoots the Chopper with paralysis shells to neutralize the threat, but with his last ounce of strength the Chopper attacks the Manhunter with an axe. Manhunter evades the weapon and it strikes something electrical, dooming the Chopper. After the battle Manhunter decides that perhaps it’s time to pass the mantel on to another.

We then see Mark Shaw, a frustrated Public Defender who wants justice for the everyman, and for his client. His uncle hears his pleas, and shows him a secret door in his study that leads to an artifact collection. Mark’s uncle shows him the costume of the Manhunter, and tells him to speak into the Manhunter medallion to find his answers. And it just so happens to occur at the same time as the other Manhunter is tendering his resignation to the Grandmaster.

Days later Mark is all decked out in his new costume, and fills him with power. His uncle informs him that in his absence his client has been murdered. Of course Mark feels responsible and swears justice. As fate would have it some of the mob boss’ goons have come to the abode, which gives Mark a chance to cut loose with his new found powers and rage. Two goons escape, but Mark gets the info he needs from one of the ones left behind. And then we see that the Grandmaster is monitoring the entire thing. The End.

Kirby knows the story that he wants to tell. It is full of action but doesn’t lack plot. Who cares of Mark’s uncle lacks a name. Or that the city lacks a name. This is an action packed adventure. It is a pretty good origin issue too.

Kirby has never really had a bad issue. His art is right on par with all of this other work that I have seen. It is pretty detailed. And the bonus of writing the story that you are drawing is that you know exactly what you want to see. My only real complaint is that the first page is reprinted as the cover.