DAZZLING DC LADIES MONTH: Kate Spencer, aka Manhunter
First appeared: Manhunter (vol. 3) #1, October 2004
Who is she? Kate’s a brilliant federal prosecutor, a divorced single mother and an at-times ruthless vigilante. Fed up with seeing brutal metahuman murderers escape convictions only to kill again, Kate breaks into an evidence lockup, stealing an assortment of confiscated villains’ equipment and taking on the identity of Manhunter.
Unlike most heroes, Kate doesn’t have a strict no-kill policy. She’s passionate about the justice system and believes that it should always be given the chance to work — but when it fails, and a killer walks free, then she’s ready to step in and take on the role of executioner herself. She’s also fully prepared to play dirty, as former supervillain lackey Dylan Battles finds out when she strong-arms him into joining her cause with the threat of blowing his Witness Protection cover. She struggles to balance her work and family life even before she takes up vigilante justice on the side; after she takes on the role of Manhunter, it turns into a chaotic juggling act and her son Ramsey is the first to suffer from the fallout.
Nevertheless, Kate is an extremely smart, witty and strong-willed woman, who over the course of the series learns and grows from her mistakes. She develops genuine friendships, learns to let others into her life more, works hard at being a better parent to her son, and ultimately finds her place in a legacy hero family.
What can she do? What she lacks in superpowers, Kate makes up for with her quick mind and formidable weaponry. Her suit is a customised Darkstar Exo-Mantle, keyed into her bioelectric signature to grant her enhanced strength, agility and endurance. She wears clawed gauntlets, originally used by Azrael during his time as Batman, and a power staff designed for a previous Manhunter.
Throughout her series, there are subtle indications that Kate might not be entirely without powers. Super strength does run in her family, and she’s repeatedly shown a remarkable ability to bounce back from injuries. Whether this is the result of some latent power or just coincidental is never made clear, though.
Where can I find her?
- Manhunter #1-38
- Batman: Streets of Gotham #1-13 (back-up stories)
- Birds of Prey vol. 1 #100-108, #116-122, #125-126
- Birds of Prey vol. 2 #14-15