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Comic Book / Manhunter (DC Comics)
aka: Manhunter

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A DC Comics series from 2004 to 2009 created by writer Marc Andreyko artist Jesus Saiz and tying into the Identity Crisis (2004) crossover event. Kate Spencer is a Los Angeles Federal Prosecutor by day, but after the supervillain Copperhead gets a lesser sentence and escapes, killing his guards she takes equipment from an evidence locker and blows Copperhead's brains out, leaving a message on the wall with the name "Manhunter".

Kate is the eighth DC character to bear the name Manhunter, but at first is unconnected to the previous holders of the title beyond bearing the weapon of Mark Shaw.

After the cancellation of her own book, Kate appeared in Birds of Prey, Streets of Gotham and more recently Justice Society of America. She also appeared as her civilian identity in the Green Arrow TV show Arrow (played by Chelah Horsdal), where she was Starling City's District Attorney (though she's never seen working as a vigilante).

Not to be confused with the Martian Manhunter, or with the Guardians of the Universe's first failed attempt at a Space Police.

Manhunter provides examples of:

  • Affirmative-Action Legacy: Though she is unconnected to the previous Manhunters, Kate is the first woman to bear the title, and the Distant Finale shows that her son Ramsey, who is gay, will take the title as well. The same storyline also introduced a new version of Jade, who was an adopted Asian-American teen.
  • Ambiguous Situation: While it seems she didn't get the bulk of the benefits from her great-great grandfather's serum, she does at one point survive a fatal dose of poison and recovers completely, as well as seeming stronger and tougher than the norm.
  • Amoral Attorney: Copperhead's lawyer in the first story arc is portrayed as one, convincing the jury that Copperhead murdering and cannibalizing 48 people isnt his fault, but the fault of his unstable mutation. Kate herself is forced to become one as part of her deal with Mr Bones, defending Dr Psycho against charges for his part of the Battle Of Metropolis where he mind-controlled a group of civilians to brutally murder a group of uncooperative supervillains.
  • Anti-Hero: Kate mostly seems to fall into a considerably dysfunctional Type III, though she gets perilously close to Type IV or V at times too.
  • Atrocious Alias: "Dylan Battles" is pretty clearly not his birth name (it's apparently Rich), which Kate immediately points out.
  • Badass Normal: Normal is stretching it, Kate likely has some low-key metahuman power, but not enough to make her more than unusually athletic baseline human.
  • Bastard Bastard: Kate's birth father, Walter Pratt, who killed her mother in front of her when she was a baby. He was the child of Iron Mundro and Sandra Knight, and while the two did get married later, Sandra hid the fact that she was pregnant from Munro and gave the child up for adoption
  • Billy Needs an Organ: Kate is reunited with her birth father when he kidnaps Ramsey for an (involuntary) bone marrow transplant, since he is dying of blood cancer. He then finds out that Ramsey is not a match, so he tries to lure Kate in, who is. It does not end well for him.
  • Boxed Crook: One of the first things Kate does is recruit Dylan Battles (real name Rich), a former Mook specializing in technology, by reminding him that she got him off on a plea deal for giving her information about his employers, and it would be all too easy for said former employers to find him if he does not cooperate.
  • Byronic Hero: As a character, Kate is a mess of contradictions and conflicting hypocrisies. Efficient, clever in applications of law, and reasonable enough as an attorney, but also prone to brutal, unthinking and cruel acts of violence; loves her family and cares for her son, but is a blatant workaholic who neglects her son and wrecked her marriage to her ex-husband; a self-proclaimed lover of the law and upholder of judiciary rules and the system and an unrepentant multiple murderess and blackmailer. Sees herself as a dispenser of justice and a "good guy", despite engaging in multiple criminal acts and acknowledging she'll be sent to prison or worse when caught.
  • Category Traitor: When Director Bones refuses to send back-up to help Kate rescue a group of Mexican women from superhuman organ-thieves, she tries to guilt-trip him by insinuating that he has forgotten what color his skin would be, since despite the fact that his skin, muscles and organs are invisible and thus he literally looks like a skeleton, Bones is in fact a black man. He immediately tears into Kate and essentially tells her that a person of color never forgets that, even if their appearance changes.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Kate wears a modified "exo-mantle" that formerly belonged to a member of the Darkstars, an intergalactic police force.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: The stress from the Self-Made Orphan situation below causes Kate to miscarry, and worse, she did not even know she was pregnant at the time.
  • Double Standard: Writer Mark Andreyko remarked how people complained about Kate being "unlikable" when the book first came out, and this was his response in an interview:
    I was like, she's no more unlikable than Wolverine. Is it because she's a woman you find that unlikable? My biggest inspiration for creating Kate was Helen Mirren in "Prime Suspect." If you haven't seen it it's amazing stuff, Helen Mirren plays a homicide investigator who is a drinker and a smoker and is bad at relationships and is this deeply flawed character. But because she was a woman we hadn't seen that before.
  • Dramatic Drop:
    • When Kate sees that the Justice League has shown up in her office her latte goes flying, but Green Lantern John Stewart catches it using his ring's powers and remarks that he knows how expensive those lattes can be.
    • This occurs again with one of Kate's assistants when Wonder Woman is in her office for a case. She catches the drinks and ice just because she didn't want there to be a mess.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A major reason for Dylan's Faceā€“Heel Turn. He has no problem building giant robot armor for people who want to rob banks and take over the world, but a 10 minute conversation with The Joker has him ready to turn over a new leaf.
  • Expy: Andreyko drew heavily on Helen Mirren's character Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect for Kate's character.
  • Fag Hag: Kate, which she lampshades. Her paralegal Damon Matthews, who she is probably closest to of anyone in the cast, is dating Todd Rice, aka Obsidian, of Infinity, Inc. A Flash Forward also shows that her son Ramsey is gay and inherits her title.
  • Flying Brick: The Darkstar suit is reinforced, and her staff allows her to fly.
  • Hair Color Dissonance: Kate's hair color varies Depending on the Artist. In the series it is mostly shown as brown with some red highlights, but some cover artwork, including the page image, show it as black.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Kate has this due to her cornucopia of issues. She often remarks that not having criminals to beat to a pulp makes her antsy and she smashes a stone statue to pieces simply because there is no-one around to pummel.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Superhero escapades aside, Kate is a respected prosecuting attorney. This despite her repeated belief that courts can render a "verdict of death." Not to mention she's described as being quite attractive by many despite her aggressive features. Some years in the future, she manages to hook up with a fit attorney fifteen years her minor despite showing visible wrinkles and graying hair.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Kate is well aware of this trope, and in an early issue has a dream where she rescues Batman by shooting the criminals holding him hostage, and after she frees him he calls her out for being no better than the villains. She later comes to terms with it and decides her actions, no matter how hypocritical and unlawful, have to be done and that she will not apologize for them and will not stop.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Averted. When she started killing criminals in Los Angeles, she gained quite the fan following and public support, with press immediately trying to interview her and people cheering support. Wonder Woman even tried to get Kate as her defense attorney after being indicted for killing Maxwell Lord because she had experience killing criminals and would be able to sympathize with the murder. Only Batman had voiced a clear dislike of her from the superhero end.
  • Humiliation Conga: Dylan, when recounting his backstory, shows a montage of such moments during his day as tech-support henchman for supervillains, including getting sucker punched by a dolphin when he worked for Black Manta.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When she first takes Dylan to a restaurant he is about to light a cigarette and she asks him "You think it's wise to break the law in front of an officer of the court?" but when he asks her a second later if she wants a cigarette she accepts. Also counts as a Hypocrisy Nod.
  • I Am Who?: She didn't learn that she was descended from the World War 2-era JSA member Iron Munro until after she became a hero.
  • Karma Houdini: It was seeing Copperhead become one of these that first inspired Kate to don the costume. Kate herself is one to an extent considering she's shown getting away with multiple accounts of murder and brutality while being fated to continue the behavior for years with her son. She's only been mildly admonished by heroes like Batman and supported by those like Huntress and Wonder Woman in the story.
  • Lad-ette: Even before donning the Manhunter armor, Kate smokes, drinks and has more balls than many of her male coworkers.
  • Left Hanging: Given the series' cancellation, this is to be expected. Even though Kate Spencer's continued in backups in Streets of Gotham, Kate herself also appeared in Birds of Prey, and the last two issues were a Flash Forward into the future, hinting that the problems were resolved, it still left several threads hanging.
    • The last plot hinted at, a serial murderer of Abortion Doctors, was only started, but cut off abruptly.
    • Dylan Battle's ties with the Joker.
  • Killed Off for Real: Previous Manhunters Chase Lawler and the Paul Kirk clone from Power Company are slain, making Kate the only active Manhunter in the DC Universe.
  • Legacy Character: Though Kate is one of many heroes to call herself "Manhunter," she does not have any connection to the previous incarnations except for her staff, which was used by a previous Manhunter, Mark Shaw. Shaw later becomes a supporting character.
  • Long-Lost Relative: During the series Kate meets her birth father, Walter Pratt, but the circumstances are not good at all. Later, she learns that her real grandparents are Sandra Knight, aka the original Phantom Lady, and Iron Munro.
  • Los Angeles: In the original series, Kate is based out of LA.
  • Made of Iron: Even without the reinforced suit, Kate's noted as being tougher than average. This is probably because her grandfather is Iron Munro, who was also notoriously Made of Iron, and was in fact created as a stand in for Superman.
  • Mama Bear: Do not hurt Ramsey. If you do, you are in for a world of hurt. Despite this, she is...
  • Maternally Challenged: With her son Ramsey. It is one of the things that led to her divorce.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: When Kate first shows up at Dylan's place his girlfriend sees her and immediately assumes Dylan is fooling around with her. While it seems Dylan has in fact been cheating on her this time he was innocent, but one of his supposed lovers showing up at home is too much for her and she leaves with their baby.
  • No Smoking: Averted. She smokes like a chimney, and at one point lights a cigarette with her gas burner because she cannot find her lighter.
  • Parental Issues: In an early issue Dylan makes a crack about "daddy not taking you to the circus" and Kate angrily says that he should never talk about her personal life like that again. We later find out that Kate's father murdered her mother in front of her when she was a baby, and though she did not know this for years the trauma of seeing it is implied to have affected her deeply.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Kate is a firm believer that the supervillains of the world, if they cannot be convicted by the law, should be eliminated and enforces that belief with fervor. This has lead to some friction between her and other members of the hero community.
  • Retcon/Arc Welding: Every post-1940s incarnation of Manhunter is retconned as part of Mark Shaw's new backstory, mostly in order to reduce the involvement of the alien Manhunter robots and make Kate the only person actively using the codename.
    • Iron Munro is added to the history of the Justice Society. In reality, Munro was created in 1987 as a Superman expy when the Earth 2 Superman was removed from history after the first Crisis. Munro himself is also an expy of Hugo Danner from Gladiator.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Kate winds up killing her own birth father after he kidnaps Ramsey
  • Sex with the Ex: Kate gets back together with her ex for a one night affair. This gets her pregnant, although she later miscarries the baby without ever knowing she was pregnant. She doesn't stay together with her Ex (Ramsey's father) beyond the one night stand.
  • Significant Name Overlap: Someone is killing off all the surviving heroes named Manhunter. It's Mark Shaw, the third Manhunter, having a multiple personality breakdown brought on by his repeated brainwashing and experimentation
  • Simple, yet Awesome: The suit, which not only has tech built in to protect her from psi-powers, but covers her body completely and avoids Combat Stilettos.
  • Sociopathic Hero: At least a borderline sociopath. By DC superhero standards (also by normal-person standards), she has killed a fair number of people, including her own father, and never seemed to feel bad about it, instead believing other superheroes should follow her lead. It's no wonder she gets along so well with Huntress of all people.
  • Straight Gay: Damon Matthews, who at one point blatantly hits on Hawkman. Todd Rice (aka. Obsidian), which had been teased in other books for years and finally made canon in this one. In the future, Kate's son Ramsey and his boyfriend Justin, also the son of superhero parents.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Kate comes from a long line of metahumans. Her great grandfather Hugo Danner, grandfather Arnold "Iron" Munroe and father Walter Pratt were all superhuman. While Kate herself is not fully-superhuman, she is unusually strong and tough and it is implied that she is a borderline metahuman. Her son Ramsey inherits powers that easily exceed any of his ancestors. He is also an extremely rare fifth generation metahuman.
  • Taking the Kids: After their divorce Kate's ex-husband Peter got custody of Ramsey, though Kate still sees him some weekends. Early in the series after Ramsey's accident with her staff Peter gets a court order keeping her away from Ramsey and threatens to sue for full custody. She takes this as well as you would expect.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted. Kate does not follow the standard superhero rules of not killing her villains and criminals.
  • Tricked-Out Gloves: Kate's gauntlet's, which once belonged to Azrael.
  • Vigilante Man: Her character apart from being a lawyer in a nutshell. Her goal in life is to kill criminals who end up getting free from punishment by the law. She sees her acts of murder as justice and actively is opposed to being referred to as a murderer.

Alternative Title(s): Manhunter