Manhunter is a Quality character that is now deeply interwoven into the DC
Universe mythology. As such, this profile begins with a DCU context, but after
the character’s origin, his Quality adventures stand on their own.
In the DC Universe, the Manhunters were a race of androids created 3.5 billion
years ago by the Guardians of the Universe. These Manhunters were conceived
as a galactic police force, but over many millennia they came to resent their
mission and their creators. For their impertinence, the androids were banished
to all parts of the universe, where they gradually reorganized over the ages.
The Guardians replaced the Manhunters with living agents, the Green
Lantern Corps. In 1066, the Manhunters came to Earth, whose sector had no Green Lantern.
When a Green Lantern finally debuted in the 1940s (Alan
Scott, not a member of the Corps), the Manhunters recruited several new agents to monitor him.
The first was Dan Richards. (Secret Origins v.3 #22)
Donald “Dan” Richards began his career in Empire City as a costumed hero
after graduating from the police academy. Sadly, his name was called last,
indicating that he’d finished last in his class. Richards’ excuse was that
he’d spent much of his time profiling criminals and now could track anyone
(this premise was quickly abandoned). His lady friend, Kit Kelly, was unimpressed
by this and her brother, Jim, was also a policeman. When Jim was framed for
ties to the mob, Richards resolved to use his special knowledge base to track
the crook. (Police #8)
National’s (DC) Manhunter, Paul Kirk, first appeared one month after
Quality’s, in Adventure Comics #73 (April 1942). When DC wrote the history
of the android Manhunters in the 1980s, both Richards and Kirk were
cast as secret agents of the androids.
Dan Richards retired his mask in 1950 but continued to serve as a police
officer. There are no details regarding his personal life (only a couple of
his Quality adventures included a love interest), but presumably fathered at
least one daughter. Decades later, the android Manhunters reentered Dan’s life,
asking to recruit his granddaughter, Marcie Cooper. Dan still wasn’t
aware of their nefarious aims and he actually encouraged Marcie. Around that
time, Cooper had become the girlfriend of the hero Obsidianand
donned a costume herself, becoming the Harlequin III. But Marcie was
truly evil and commanded Dan’s dog, Thor, to attack. Only then did Richards
realize that Thor had been an android all those years. Cooper hunted her own
grandfather, driving him off the road. (Infinity, Inc. #14,
46) He returned
to confront Marcie, who shot him before she was taken down. (#47)
The art on “Manhunter” was ever-changing, but it’s known that prominent artists
such as Reed Crandall and Alex Kotzky drew a number of issues. Police #21 was
a rarity, signed by John Cassone.
Manhunter had no superhuman powers. He relied on his physical ability, and
police detective skills to find and capture his prey. Thor was an android with
considerable super-strength, though this was not revealed until just before
the dog’s destruction.