Manhunter (Kate Spencer)
Artwork for the cover of Manhunter (vol. 3) #4 (2005).
Art by Jae Lee
|First appearance||Manhunter (vol. 3) #1 (October 2004)|
|Created by||Marc Andreyko
|Alter ego||Katherine Spencer|
Birds of Prey
Justice Society of America
|Abilities||Wears a suit that is keyed into her unique bioelectrical signature, granting her increased strength, agility, and endurance. Carries a powerful staff once used by a previous Manhunter, Mark Shaw.|
Manhunter (Kate Spencer) is a fictional character, a superheroine appearing in DC Comics. She is the eighth DC Comics character depicted using the name Manhunter, and the first female to do so. The character first appears in Manhunter (vol. 3) #1 (October 2004) and was promoted by DC Comics as relevant to the popular Identity Crisis limited series.
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2008)|
Despite critical success, the first series repeatedly had trouble gaining larger readership. DC Comics announced in May 2006 that the series would be canceled and that issue #25 would be the last. Dan DiDio, DC's executive editor, soon followed with another announcement, that fan outcry convinced him to extend the series for five additional issues in order to improve sales. The new five-issue story arc dealt with a ramification of the Infinite Crisis, again tying the series into a popular event. DiDio also said that the storyline would lead into another big event in the DC Universe. The series came back with issue #31 in 2007, but was cancelled with issue #38 in 2008.
Manhunter had a 10-page co-feature in Batman: Streets of Gotham which began in June 2009, and ended in issue #13, and was replaced with a Two-Face co-feature. A planned collection of the back-up series was cancelled by DC.
In addition to her solo features, writer Gail Simone made Manhunter into one of the lead characters in her Birds of Prey series as part of a controversial revamp in issue #100, where Kate was brought in to serve as a replacement for Black Canary. Manhunter remained with the team until the book's cancellation with issue #127 in 2009, and was not part of the subsequent 2010 relaunch. Writer Marc Guggenheim announced that in 2011, Manhunter would begin appearing in his Justice Society of America series.
Fictional character biography
Kate Spencer is a federal prosecutor who grows increasingly tired of seeing guilty criminals evade punishment. Copperhead, a supervillain on trial for multiple murders and cannibalism, avoids a death sentence and escapes from custody after killing two guards. An angry Kate takes matters into her own hands, stealing equipment from an evidence room and killing Copperhead. Calling herself Manhunter, Kate blackmails a former weapons manufacturer for numerous villains named Dylan Battles — who is in the Witness Protection Program — into building, maintaining, and upgrading her armor, weapons, and gadgets.
In addition to legal proceedings and fighting crime, Kate's life includes awkward relationships with her six-year-old son Ramsey and novelist ex-husband. Kate's secret life as Manhunter cuts into her career and family life, but her co-counsel Damon Matthews covers for her. Kate's father Walter Pratt spent time in prison for murdering her mother, and she comes to believe that her grandfather is superhero Al Pratt, the original Atom, a member of the Justice Society of America.
Through her friendship with Department of Extranormal Operations Agent Cameron Chase, Kate works for the DEO under the direction of Mr. Bones. During the Infinite Crisis, Oracle calls Kate, along with a number of low-powered heroes to join the Battle of Metropolis, and she was invited to join the Birds of Prey after founding member Black Canary left to join the Justice League.
The June 2006 issue of Manhunter revealed that Kate's true grandfather was not the original Atom, but actually Iron Munro and that her grandmother was Sandra Knight (Phantom Lady). When Munro was apparently unwilling to deal with his girlfriend's pregnancy, she was taken by Pratt to a home for unwed mothers and Pratt was mistakenly listed as the father on Walter Pratt's birth certificate. This makes her a second cousin once removed to Jack Knight, as Phantom Lady pointed out in the issue.
Kate was hired to be Wonder Woman's defense lawyer for the murder of Maxwell Lord. The case has taken an unexpected turn however, upon the recent arrival of a supposedly alive Blue Beetle, who claims he has no memory of the last 18 months. Wonder Woman has called in Batman to run an investigation on Blue Beetle, to see if it is really him. Meanwhile, Kate received aid from Checkmate, which proved that Diana's actions were justifiable. The "Blue Beetle" turned out to be the shapeshifting cannibal Everyman from Lex Luthor's Infinity, Inc.
Cancellation and future
Since the cancellation of her ongoing series, it has been announced by Dan DiDio that Kate Spencer would be moving to Gotham to serve as their D.A. and will be appearing in Streets of Gotham alongside Huntress and Misfit, her fellow Birds of Prey, and Batgirl. The series was eventually cancelled, and a planned collection was axed due to low pre-orders.
Kate was recently seen being recruited by Jay Garrick for a yet unknown purpose, alongside Mon-El, Miss Martian, Mister America, and the Sea Devils. Despite her recruitment, Kate does not appear alongside the other heroes in the finale of Justice League: Cry for Justice. Following this, Manhunter briefly appears alongside Batgirl, Batwoman, the Question and a host of other female heroes when Wonder Woman leads them against Professor Ivo's robot sirens.
In 2011, it was confirmed that Manhunter would begin appearing in Justice Society of America. Kate makes her first appearance in issue #47, where she battles a group of gangbangers who are in the process of robbing a Gotham electronics store. After defeating the thugs, Kate sees a news report from the recently destroyed city of Monument Point, where Jay Garrick is shown telling reporters about the crime wave sweeping the remains of the city. Upon hearing about how there are not enough heroes and police officers to stem the tide of criminal activity, Kate is shown grinning, as if the statement has given her an idea. Shortly after this, Kate appears in Monument Point during a massive battle between the Justice Society and a villain named Doctor Chaos. She is shown leading a large team of superheroes including the JSA All-Stars, Jesse Quick, Liberty Belle and a new heroine resembling the Blue Beetle. After Chaos is defeated, Kate and the other heroes choose to stay in Monument Point and join the JSA.
Powers and abilities
When Kate pursues Copperhead, she sneaks into an evidence room to steal some items she can use against him. Manhunter #15 tells the origin of each of the three items she takes:
- The Suit - The suit comes from a member of the Darkstars who died in battle and fell to Earth to rot. A drifter found it and used it to defend himself against a group of attackers. Successfully defeating them, he robbed them and left the suit in a dumpster. The Controllers apparently programmed an instinctive hatred of Reach scarabs into the suits including the one currently worn by Kate Spencer. Her suit reacts adversely to the scarab currently bonded to Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes.
- The Gauntlets - A small-time crook found the gauntlets, originally worn by Azrael during his stint as Batman, in Gotham City. The crook used them in an unsuccessful burglary, but when the police arrived, the crook fell to his death, leaving the gauntlets embedded in the side of the building.
- The Staff - An attack on Eclipso ended with several heroes dead; among them was a man programmed to believe that he was Mark Shaw. The staff was recovered with the body and hidden in storage.
Other characters have remarked that Kate displays slightly elevated strength and resilience to injury. If these are actual meta-human powers as a result of her lineage from Iron Munro or if Kate is simply tougher than average has not been clarified.
In other media
Kate Spencer made her first appearance in live action on The CW television series Arrow played by Chelah Horsdal. In "Damaged" Kate tries to get Oliver Queen convicted after he is accused of being the Starling City vigilante but Dinah Laurel Lance arrives at the last minute to save him by having him confined to his home. Later, Kate tries to get Oliver to plead insane rather than take a lie detector test but Oliver still goes through with the test and gets out of it, subsequently managing to clear his name by having his associate John Diggle appear as the vigilante while he is confined. In "State V. Queen" after A.D.A. Adam Donner is abducted by Count Vertigo during the trial of Moira Queen, she, despite the concerns of Sebastian Blood, assigns Laurel as head of the case. In "Birds of Prey" Kate has Adam Donner fired when he used the arrest and trial of Frank Bertinelli to draw out his vigilante daughter Helena Bertinelli/The Huntress which resulted in a hostage situation. Laurel was also briefly reappointed to her job without Kate's approval which she apologized for; she initially stated that nothing had changed, but Laurel blackmails Kate into giving her job back. In "The Man Under The Hood" when Laurel's father Quentin Larry Lance was arrested for assisting the Arrow, Laurel once again blackmailed Kate and she had the charges against Quentin dropped. However, as she walked away she warned Laurel to be careful of her. In "Streets of Fire", she was killed by one of Slade Wilson's soldiers, forcing Sebastian Blood to recognize that Slade Wilson had no intention of carrying out their original deal of damaging Starling City so that Blood could rebuild it in the aftermath. In "The Calm", after Slade Wilson's defeat, Laurel takeover Kate's position following her death, and working with Arrow.
- Manhunter (vol. 3) #1–38 (October 2004 – March 2009) collected as:
- Manhunter Vol. 1: Street Justice (collects #1–5, December 2005, ISBN 1-4012-0728-6)
- Manhunter Vol. 2: Trial By Fire (collects #6–14, January 2007, ISBN 1-4012-1198-4)
- Manhunter Vol. 3: Origins (collects #15–23, August 2007, ISBN 1-4012-1340-5)
- Manhunter Vol. 4: Unleashed (collects #24–30, January 2008, ISBN 1-4012-1632-3)
- Manhunter Vol. 5: Forgotten (collects #31-38, May 2009, ISBN 1-4012-2158-0)
- Manhunter Comics - Villain Profiles - Walter Pratt
- Birds ofPrey (vol. 1) #127
- Birds of Prey (vol. 2) #1
- Newsarama.com : Dan DiDio: 20 Answers, 1 Question - February 13th Edition
- Justice League: Cry For Justice #4
- Wonder Woman #600
- Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #48
- Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #49
- Manhunter (vol. 3) #32 (Sept. 2008)
- Manhunter (Kate Spencer) at the Comic Book DB
- Manhunter (Kate Spencer) at the DCU guide
- Manhunter comics
- One Year Later with Manhunter and Marc Andreyko, Comic Book Resources
- Andreyko & Manhunter: Love Is In The Air
- Overview of Marc Andreyko's Manhunter
- 2006 Podcast Interview with Manhunter Writer Marc Andreyko (contains plot detail)