O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Manhunter #31, which was published by DC and is cover dated August 2008. Enjoy!
I don’t know if this is cheating; Manhunter #31 is the “relaunch” of the series after a hiatus, and Michael Gaydos actually draws a two-page recap to begin the book, but I’m not counting it because it is, after all, just a recap. So this is technically the first page of the book, even though it’s Page 3. Deal with it!
Marc Andreyko gets us up to date in the recap pages, and then he hits us with first-person narration. There’s a super-villain who’s somewhat delusional. Got it. I love the dialogue, because it’s so Hollywood – the onlookers don’t think anything of Manhunter showing up at the movie premiere, because why wouldn’t she, especially if she’s in the movie? The insider pooh-poohs the notion, because he heard they were developing a series about her for HBO. Frankly, that would be awesome. So Andreyko gets us up to speed on the villain, and he also sets up the Hollywood mindset. In the lower right, Andreyko goes the tried-and-true route with a news reporter telling us what’s going on, as she does on the next page before the villain shows up (and kills Ms. St. John brutally – Andreyko just might have some issues with the press, mightn’t he?). It’s a good transition from Kate’s inner monologue to the spoken dialogue.
Gaydos balances the splash page with the Atomic Skull in the upper left and Kate in the lower right, showing us the principals while still giving us the big page. The Atomic Skull is somewhat goofy, with the armor and the hazard symbol on his arm, but that belies his horrible power, which is quite deadly. Down in the lower right, Kate is looking to the next page, leading us that way. In the big splash, Gaydos puts Kate directly beneath her narrative boxes, so that she’s not exactly in the center of the page, but she’s still dominating the page even though we see her from the back. Gaydos makes sure that she’s framed well, too – the Chinese façade stands on the right side of the page, stoic and unbending, while the background tilts slightly to the right, keeping Kate contained but also highlighting her. The limousine adds another false border, keeping our eye pinned to Kate in the center. Gaydos doesn’t do fluid action as well as some artists, but because Kate isn’t fighting anyone but just running, she doesn’t look at all awkward. From Kate, our eyes move down her long staff to the onlookers, and from then it goes to the last caption box, which then leads us to the lower right panel. It’s a very well designed page, closing Kate into a triangle that helps highlight her nicely but still allows our eye to move out of it. Everything pushes us to the right and downward, which is where we should go! Professional comics creators creating comics professionally! Whoo-hoo!
I think this weekend will be the last time you can suggest first pages for me to use in October, because I should be ready to start writing them up. So get your first pages in to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s nothing more fun than letting me know which first pages of comics I should write about, is there?
Next: A Garth Ennis war comic! Those are always fun, right? If you try, you can find more war comics in the archives!
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