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Real Name:  Inapplicable

Voiced by James Remar

Forged over three billion years ago, the Manhunters were an early attempt by the Guardians to create an intergalactic police force.  Constructed to resemble the Oans in physical form (as they appeared at the time), the androids drew their energy from the Central Power Battery, an energy source powered by the Guardians themselves.  At first, they were excellent troops—bringing their authority to the lawless sectors of the universe—but, over time, flaws began to settle into their programming, such as their inability to comprehend the subtleties between good and evil...as well as the fact that they began to believe that they were superior to their creators.  This belief soon festered into a bitter resentment, which led to their open rebellion against the Guardians.

The war between Guardian and Manhunter raged until the machines attacked Oa directly in an attempt to take control of the Power Battery, which they believed to be theirs by birthright.  At first successful, their victory proved to be their undoing when the energies proved too powerful to harness directly—an attempt to recharge directly from the Battery caused a chain reaction that destroyed their weapons and personal batteries.  Banished from Oa, disconnected from the Battery, and reprogrammed for lesser duties; the Manhunters excelled in their new capacities, but they never forgot their mistreatment and swore vengeance against the Guardians and their successors, the Green Lantern Corps.

Cartoon Network on the Manhunters:  "Created by the Guardians of Oa, they were sophisticated, soulless android bounty hunters designed to bring order to lawless sectors of the universe.  Unfortunately, the Manhunters had programming flaws limiting their usefulness, and were soon replaced by the Green Lantern Corps.  Now, the Manhunters have reprogrammed themselves to destroy the Guardians and the Green Lanterns (courtesy of Cartoon Network).”

Excerpts from the Justice League Panel at the 2001 San Diego Comic Con:

Bruce Timm:  These are the robotic Manhunters—these are guys who always shout, “No man escapes the Manhunters.”  Those Manhunters.

It’s kind of confusing because [we’ll] have the Manhunters and the Martian Manhunter, but we never really call him that…we just call him J’onn.

They’re evil robots—a race of evil—no, not evil…yeah, I guess they’re evil—robot bounty hunters.  And they also have a pivotal role in the Green Lantern episode.  They’re cool—we like them.  James Remar plays [their voices]; we really like him.

Courtesy of Revolution Science Fiction and Comics2Film.

Bruce Timm on the Manhunters:  “They have a really long history—a real complicated, long history—in DC Comics.  I mean, there are millions of varieties of Manhunters, you know:  there was a heroic Manhunter, then there [were] evil Manhunters, then there was another heroic Manhunter.  […] Our version of the Manhunters are pretty much based on the Jack Kirby look [from First Issue Special #5]; they later incorporated that into an evil group of bounty hunter robots in the comics.  So, we thought that was a really good way to go with them (courtesy of the Justice League:  Justice on Trial DVD).”

 

Images

Screen Grabs of the Manhunters

Manhunter Model Design Sheet #1 | Manhunter Model Design Sheet #2

Manhunter Image

 

Commentary

“We thought robots would make good peacekeepers, but they were flawed.  They couldn’t understand the subtle gradations between good and evil.  […] We reprogrammed them for lesser duties—tracking, hunting, guarding.  They didn’t seem to object."

“Not out loud, anyway."

An exchange between the Guardians and Green Lantern from "In Blackest Night"

One of several DC properties to possess the name "Manhunter," these rivals of the Green Lantern Corps are probably the best known of the lot, considering their presence as frequent Justice League opponents and as the facilitator of the other Manhunter characters.  With the Jack Kirby-written First Issue Special #5 (August 1975) serving as a template, the story of the Manhunters (detailed in Secret Origins #22) was retconned into a far-reaching story arc spanning billions of years that included secret cults and the recruitment of human agents, both as spies for Earth's superhuman population and as Manhunters themselves.  While making appearances in their current form since Justice League of America #140 (which served as a basis for their appearance in "In Blackest Night"), their masterstroke came as the primary villains in the 1988 crossover event Millennium, in which they attempted to eliminate the Guardians' successors, the New Guardians.  However, following a confrontation with Earth's heroes and the Green Lantern Corps, they failed, were destroyed, and have largely been retired as villains in the DC Universe...until recently, as they've recently resurfaced in the pages of Green Lantern.

In adapting the Manhunters for Justice League, the elaborate backstory has been eliminated for simplicity's sake, leaving their primary role as bounty hunters, a function that they served in the comics.  In terms of their design, the creative team decided to remain faithful to Jack Kirby's original designs (this is the Mark Shaw Manhunter, but his design would later be incorporated into his robotic masters, seen here), though it could be argued that they also incorporated a bit of Kirby's other robotic villains, the Sentinels (see here) in terms of personality and relentlessness.  After all, they are visually similar, and both have a predilection for spouting fascist one-liners (compare "no man escapes the Manhunters" to "destroy all mutants!").

Apparently defeated in "In Blackest Night," it is unlikely that the Manhunters will make a return appearance on Justice League Unlimited, but it's always a possibility.  As evidenced by prior mechanical threats like HARDAC and Brainiac, robots can be perpetually be replaced as long as the programming is still present.  If any Manhunters still exist—either because they were absent from the attack on Oa or because they were survivors—they can rebuild and regroup, providing a future threat to the immortal Guardians and their current, favored policing agency.

 

Images courtesy of Warner Bros. Online UK, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Toon Zone, Comic Book Resources, DC Comics, Mile High Comics, [website name removed], and The World's Finest.  Additional information courtesy of The Unofficial Green Lantern Corps Web Page and Comics Nexus.  The Sentinels courtesy of Marvel Comics.

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