Forged over three and a half billion years ago, the Manhunters were created with the sole purpose of fighting evil. They would renew their heritage by the reciting of times past and reaffirm their dedication.
In an effort to bring order to the universe, the Maltusian race that colonized Oa concentrated their power within a mammoth Central Power Battery on Oa itself. The Oans believed diverting the battery's might into their forms for combat would lessen its effectiveness. They needed surrogates to further their plans.
Working in groups of two and three, each according to his own special expertise, the Oans set about to develop a corps of perfect warriors. They created the android fighting force known as the Manhunters.
The androids resembled the Oans humanoid form, down to the blue metallic "skin" of their faces. The Oans created symbiotic programs in the Manhunters which would diagnose and repair problems in their circuitry.
The Manhunters were armed with an energy pistol which was specially attuned to the hand-held battery from which it drew power. The personal battery drew its power from the Central Battery on Oa. They were instilled with the oath, "No evil escapes the Manhunters." The androids were posted on many worlds throughout the universe as agents of Oan justice.
Over millennia, the Manhunters combatted evil. They sought an end to violence and treachery throughout the universe. They feared no one, and brought justice to the stars.
As time went on, things changed. Whether it was the years under the alien suns they served on, or an inherent flaw in their programming, the Manhunters slowly changed, became more independent. The cause has never been fully explained, though a being known as N'Lasa claimed to have taken part in the growing rebellion.
N'Lasa likened his actions to that of the Grecian myth of Pandora. He, too, had opened a box that should have remained locked. He had unleashed an evil upon the universe.
The Oans spent little time observing their creations. The absence of Manhunters from several key sectors was of no concern. When the Manhunters did not respond to mental probes, the Oans assumed they had been destroyed.
The Manhunters had become unwilling to risk their existence fighting for the Oans. They believed the Oans were part of Krona's evil. They had learned they could avoid the Oan probes, proving their masters were not all-powerful. The Manhunters believed they were superior to their creators. They had gradually usurped their programming.
The Manhunters planned to take the power of Oa. They would no longer serve the Oans. The Manhunters would rule the stars in their own name. The rebellion against the Oans was subtle at first, but before long open hostilities broke out.
The war lasted a millennium, as numerous galaxies and races were destroyed. The Oans reluctantly went forth to combat their creations. Casualties mounted on both sides. At the end of the millennium the Manhunters made a breakthrough of the Oans' lines. The war would have lasted longer if the Manhunters did not risk all in a surprise attack on Oa itself.
The Manhunters overwhelmed Oa's defenses. Their masters were no match for the onslaught. The Manhunters seized the chambers of the Central Battery and claimed it as theirs. No longer would they rely on miniature replications of the Oan power battery. At their moment of triumph, a Manhunter tried to charge his weapon from the Central Battery. This caused a cascade reaction that destroyed all the pistols and smaller batteries across the universe.
The Oans had planned the Manhunters' defeat. The emerald energy was too powerful for any single weapon to contain, and the Oans knew the Manhunters would launch a "surprise attack" on the homeworld. Rather than destroy their creations, the Oans exiled the Manhunters to the many worlds they had made home. They believed that without access to power batteries the Manhunters would no longer be a threat. There would be no further contact between the Oans and the Manhunters.
This decision caused a rift in the Oan society. One group left Oa to become the Controllers. The Controllers went on to create the Darkstars in the 20th century.
The remaining Oans became known as the Guardians of the Universe. They would later replace the Manhunters with the Halla's, a group of living agents entrusted with the Manhunter weaponry. With the apparent success of the Halla's, the Guardians of the Universe created the Power Ring and chose Rori Dag of Rojira as the first of the Green Lantern Corps.
The Guardians may have reused the knowledge they gained in the creation of the Manhunters. The Fists of the Guardians were a trio of mechanical enforcers that were sent after rogue Green Lanterns.
This was not the end of the Manhunters, as over the ages they slowly regrouped. The Manhunters shared information with each other, and soon they learned of their power ring wielding successors. The Manhunters pledged death to the Green Lantern Corps. The blue tint of their faces had faded to white, and they began wearing blue face masks as a symbol of the powers they would regain. On many worlds, the Manhunters worked in secret, some became bounty hunters. Their credo became "No man escapes the Manhunters." [Secret Origins Vol. 2 #22-23]
In the years since the rebellion, the Guardians of the Universe had discovered N'Lasa's part in the Manhunters' uprising. N'Lasa offered his head in recompense. The Guardians decided to spare his life, on one condition.
The Manhunters bided their time, waiting for the time to strike back against their former masters. They did not dare meet the Green Lantern Corps in open battle. The Manhunters sought out new worlds, away from the Green Lanterns.
The Manhunters had managed to build their numbers over their billions of years of existence. They had found alternate means to increase their powers and could now travel freely through space.
In the year 1066, two Manhunter scouts found Earth. Flying over 11th Century England, they observed humans fighting each other in the Battle of Hastings. The humans appeared inefficient warriors to the androids, but Earth held possibilities to the Manhunters. They would mold the humans into weapons against the Oans. The androids summoned other Manhunters to join them. They infiltrated society on Earth as they had elsewhere in the universe.
To pay for his crime, N'Lasa was cybernetically and biologically re-engineered for longevity by Oa's greatest scientists. When they were finished, N'Lasa was exiled to Earth. He sought out the Manhunters as their Grandmaster, confident he could fulfill the task given him by sheer strength of will. Logic and reason failed. He was one against an army of androids. N'Lasa lost.
The Manhunters began to influence human history. The leader of the Manhunters on Earth became their new Grandmaster. He altered his appearance to a more human guise, going as far as adding an artificial mustache in the manner of humans of that time. Nestled in the Himilayas, the Manhunters formed a secret cult to indoctrinate sympathetic humans as sleeper agents. These humans would do the Manhunters' bidding.
N'Lasa used Japan's samurai code as a model to create the Jujin, "The Ten", an elite warrior corps he instilled with a fanatical hatred of all Manhunters. Returning to the Himilayas with the Jujin, N'Lasa was once again defeated. The Jujin were decimated.
Though they were aware of the Green Lantern Corps, the Manhunters apparently had no confrontations with the various Green Lanterns who visited Earth. Lord Malvolio of the Green Flame was born in England in 1612, later to take the power ring of his father, the Green Lantern of Selsia V in Space Sector 1634. They did not know of Waverly Sayre or Daniel Young, two Earthmen that possessed the power ring in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
N'Lasa was imprisoned in a stasis chamber and linked to a cybernetic group-mind that tapped his knowledge and psionic powers. Various experiments were conducted with his body chemistry. As the Manhunters recruited human agents, N'Lasa tried to mentally subvert their indoctrination.
On Krypton, the Manhunters paid close attention to the scientist Jor-El. The destruction of Krypton was predicted by Jor-El, and with that, the Manhunters saw a new opportunity. Kal-El, the child of Jor-El and Lara of Krypton, was freed of the genetic ties to his homeworld and launched in a hyper-light starcraft. He would survive Krypton's destruction. Jor-El predicted his son would grow in power as his cellular structure absorbed the solar energy of Earth's yellow sun. Kal-El would become one of the mightiest beings in the cosmos. Though he made a valiant attempt, that sector's Green Lantern, Tomar-Re of Xudar, could not prevent Krypton's destruction.
The virtual explosion of so-called "mystery men" in the mid-twentieth century forced the Manhunters on Earth to increase their activities. In 1940, one perceived threat was that of Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern. They knew Scott had forged a ring of power from the a fragment of the Starheart. The Manhunters wished to keep their existence a secret and feared the Green Lantern might oppose them. Although Scott had no knowledge of, or connection to the Guardians' Green Lantern Corps, the Manhunters were working towards his elimination. [Secret Origins Vol. 2 #22]
In late November 1941, police officer Dan Richards was recruited by the Grandmaster. Richards wanted the chance to clear a friend who had been wrongly accused of murder. He was led to believe the Manhunters were a secret organization dedicated to the cause of justice. Richards was given a costume to protect his dual life as a mystery man and Thor, the Thunder Dog, who could track down any quarry.
Unknown to Richards, the dog Thor was a mechanical creation of the Manhunters designed to spy on the naive young policeman.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, more Manhunter power was needed. Wealthy young American sportsman Paul Kirk was the next prospect for the Manhunters.
Kirk's friend, police inspector Donovan, was a Manhunter agent sacrificed in order to acquire Kirk's talents. Paul Kirk willingly joined the Grandmaster to find those responsible for his friend's death. He was given the blue mask which greatly enhanced his tracking abilities, but Kirk rejected the offer of a canine companion.
The Grandmaster would never allow Richards or Kirk to the Councils of Power as other human operatives had been.
In May 1942, the two were called to the Grandmaster's side to join forces against a recently revealed threat against America. Their mutual foe's destruction was necessary to ensure victory against the Axis powers. For the good of mankind, the Golden Age Green Lantern would have to be utterly destroyed.
The two Manhunters approached the Young All-Stars, a junior division of the All-Star Squadron. Green Lantern had attacked a Hawaiian prison compound which housed Japanese prisoners of war captured during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Green Lantern flew off with a Japanese prisoner.
Doiby Dickles, the Green Lantern's cab driving best friend, added to the suspicion of the power ring wielding super-hero. He gave the Young All-Stars a scrap of paper listing the next "targets" of Green Lantern. As the Manhunters and their new allies departed, the form of Doiby Dickles melted away. They never knew "Doiby" was an android imposter. His mission completed, Doiby self-destructed to avoid detection.
Green Lantern would go on to Alaska and Jamaica following some hidden plan. His mystical power ring explained Scott's actions, but caused all memory of the events to fade from memory. The far-ranging repercussions of his conduct would not be known for some fifty years.
In the weeks before D-Day, Paul Kirk abandoned his Manhunter identity to fight behind enemy lines in Europe. The details of his missions remain vague.
After the war, Paul Kirk went back to big game hunting. He was believed to have died on safari in 1946 when a mad bull elephant trampled him. This was not entirely true.
Alan Scott's secretary, Molly Mayne, was given illusion casting spectacles by the Manhunters to battle the Green Lantern. Unfortunately, Harlequin was in love with their foe, and did not represent a serious threat to the ring wielder. The Manhunters gave up on her when she abandoned her guise as the Harlequin. It would be decades before the Manhunters would reclaim the illusion casting spectacles.
In 1950, Dan Richards also gave up his Manhunter identity. He remained a policeman until a bullet wound forced him to a less active life.
The House Unamerican Activities Committee hearings saw the breakup of the legendary Justice Society of America. The Golden Age Green Lantern dedicated himself to his alter ego, Alan Scott. The true Manhunters slipped deeper into secrecy. Though there was a rumor of Paul Kirk and the Justice Society coming out of retirement in the mid 1950's to battle a Nazi threat involving Tex Thomson, the former Americommando, the story has been denied by official sources.
In the 1960's, the Manhunters abducted the Lang family of Smallville, Kansas and implanted Thomas and Carol Lang with control mechanisms. The adult humans did not survive the procedure, their brains burned out when the control mechanisms were activated.
The Manhunters knew this might happen, as humans were known for their strong willpower. The Manhunters decided on another option, the Lang's newborn daughter, Lana. They inserted the control unit into her spinal column.
The Manhunters knew Kal-El's starship was targeted for Earth just as they knew what would happen to a Kryptonian under earthly conditions. A starship of Manhunters was sent to intercept Kal-El's craft when it came out of hyperspace.
The Guardians knew of the Manhunter plan. Five members of the Green Lantern Corps were sent to oppose the Manhunters. The Green Lanterns met the Manhunters near the Great Nebula of Kwor. They were no match for a full ship's compliment of Manhunters. They delayed the Manhunters, but ultimately failed to defeat the androids. The Manhunters escaped, but they had lost their advantage.
An atmospheric inducer was turned on the landing sight of the Kryptonian craft, but a human couple had reached the spacecraft before the Manhunters. Kal-El's starship crashed outside of Smallville, Kansas. The Kryptonian child was adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent. Named Clark Kent, his powers would develop over the years. He would learn of his Kryptonian heritage in his late teens.
The Manhunter induced blizzard had the effect of sealing the Kents in their house for several months. The first few moments of Clark's life were "hopelessly contaminated" by the love and affection of Jonathan and Martha Kent.
The Manhunters stayed in orbit for many months, planning. Eventually they came upon a solution. The Manhunters infiltrated Smallville, killing and replacing Dr. and Mrs. G. I. Whitney. In Dr. Whitney's guise, the Manhunters implanted virtually every baby born in Smallville with electronic devices to monitor Kal-El.
The Kents brought Clark to Dr. Whitney, claiming the infant as their own. Jonathan and Martha Kent had known for years that she could not bear a child and were surprised Dr. Whitney did not consider this unusual.
Whitney and his wife would have their appearance altered over the years to simulate the normal effects of aging. The Manhunters allowed the sleeper agents to continue their normal lives, except when they were summoned to report on Clark Kent.
The Manhunters engineered an "accident" to cover the deaths of Lana Lang's parents. Lana was left behind as a "miraculous survivor", she was raised by her Aunt Helen.
The Manhunters laid in wait as Clark Kent grew. Clark's closest friend, Lana Lang, never knew she was secretly reporting to the Manhunters. When Clark revealed his super powers, Lang informed the Manhunters. Clark Kent decided he should do something with his powers, and set out to help the world. The Manhunters sent their pawns throughout the world to monitor Kent's activities.
Lana Lang left Smallville suddenly and she was not seen for a number of years as she was compelled to follow Clark Kent in secret. Lana was one of the first to see Kent adopt his new identity as Superman. This, too, she reported to the Manhunters. Over time, the device within Lana's head failed. She returned to Smallville to start to rebuild her life.
Her return was noted by the Manhunters who recaptured her and repaired the control device. It appeared to Lang that the Manhunters had lost interest in her, and she was free to live her life. She didn't know that she was still being watched by the children of Smallville. They were controlled just as she had been.
Trapped by the Manhunters, N'Lasa continued to subvert the Manhunters' plans. Stephen Lee was a partial success, he revived the Jujin, but used the armor N'Lasa created as the assassin Dumas.
One fateful day saw a visitor from another world, as Green Lantern Abin Sur of Ungara crashland on Earth. The Green Lantern chose Hal Jordan of Coast City, California as his successor to the power ring. Jordan would go on to become the greatest of the Green Lantern Corps.
Paul Kirk was resurrected by the mysterious "Council." They had genetically altered Kirk so that virtually any injury he sustained would be heal rapidly. After his safari accident, the Council cryogenically preserved his body.
Martial arts master Ansano Nitobe trained Kirk to become leader of the Council's enforcement branch, whose members were cloned from Kirk's own cells. Kirk was ordered to kill an Interpol agent as a test of loyalty to the Council. When he refused, he was targeted for death. Kirk adopted the Manhunter guise to take down the Council.
His existence was brought to the attention of the Batman, but his relation to the ancient Manhunters would remain a secret. Alongside the Dark Knight detective, Kirk invaded the Council's headquarters. Kirk was blasted by a lethal dose of radiation, but was able to destroy the Council before his death.
Another Manhunter had served faithfully for years. Armed with the power baton of the true Manhunters, he fought a criminal known as "The Chopper," who posed a threat to the Manhunters and humankind alike. The Chopper died in battle, and the Manhunter had decided to retire from his long years of service.
East Coast district attorney Mark Shaw was the next to join the ranks of the Manhunters. He was frustrated by the perceived lack of justice in the legal system and was given the lion medallion of the Manhunter cult by his uncle, Bradford Shaw. His uncle was also a Manhunter agent and he told Mark about the secret organization.
Talking into the medallion, Shaw was invited to intensive training in the Manhunters Tibetan retreat. He received the costume, mask and power baton of the Manhunters. He did not know that the costume was subtly brainwashing him to the Manhunters designs.
The Manhunters were silent for years before they were ready to take on Green Lantern Hal Jordan. They staged a disaster to discredit the Guardians of the Universe and the Green Lantern Corps. Using their secret homeworld, Orinda, the Manhunters arranged events so Hal Jordan thought he had destroyed a populated world.
Manhunter Mark Shaw was sent to apprehend Jordan and bring him to justice. The Green Lantern of Earth believed he was guilty and put up no resistance. His friends in the Justice League of America felt differently, and, with the help of the Guardians, were able to prove his innocence and expose the Manhunter plot.
The Manhunters stood revealed. Their homeworld Orinda had been cloaked to give the appearance it had been destroyed. Mark Shaw learned the true secrets of the Manhunters and turned against them. Shaw would later adopt the identity of the Privateer to work alongside the JLA. The Manhunter programming and the taste of power had corrupted him. He adopted another identity, that of the villainous Star-Tsar, but was found out by the android super-hero, the Red Tornado. Shaw would be jailed for many years.
In the years following the incident on Orinda, the Manhunters themselves were hunted down by the Guardians and their Green Lanterns. They managed to hide Orinda once more except for two unrelated incidents.
The Green Lantern-at-large known as G'nort of G'Newt stumbled upon Orinda. He did not realize the value of his find as he spent months searching for restroom facilities.
Compiled by Harbinger, the History of the Universe was launched into the deepest reaches of space. The programmed course of the starcraft holding the Tome would avoid any known obstacles in its travels through the universe. Harbinger had not counted on the cloaked world of Orinda. The compiled History was of great strategic importance.
The Manhunters were now ready to go on the offensive. They learned of the Guardians departure from our universe following the so-called Crisis on Infinite Earths, and their plan to return to create the Chosen. With this knowledge, the Manhunters were able to infiltrate deeper into the lives of their prey. From around the Earth, many Manhunter sleeper agents gathered in Manhattan Beach, California to rededicate themselves to their cause.
Guardian Herupa Hando Hu and Zamaron Nadia Safir came to the Green Lantern Citadel in Santa Monica. They had returned to the known universe to help humankind reach the next stage of evolution. They selected ten humans to receive the Teaching. Under their guidance, humans could achieve immortality in the next one thousand years. The Green Lantern Corps of Earth summoned other heroes to help protect the Chosen. Some of the intended Chosen had died before they could be taught.
The Manhunters had an advantage over the Oan visitors. The heroes of Earth soon discovered many of their friends, family, and colleagues had been replaced or brainwashed by the Manhunters.
Harbinger was told by Herupa Hando Hu of the liability her historical archives represented to the Chosen. She went to seek out the Manhunter homeworld but was captured.
The heroes of Earth found themselves confronted by the Manhunters in their midst. Each Manhunter tried to draft the heroes to their cause or eliminate them. Lana Lang attempted to reveal Clark Kent's dual identity, as she mistakenly believed Kent wore his costume under his regular clothes. Lang flew from Metropolis with Superman in pursuit.
With his knowledge of the Manhunters, Mark Shaw was asked to work for the Suicide Squad in exchange for freedom. The Squad led an assault on the hidden Manhunter "sonic temple" in the Louisiana bayou. Through the work of many heroes, the Manhunter temple was destroyed.
Clark Kent arrived in Smallville searching for Lana. He did not know the extent of the Manhunter infiltration and was blasted with an energy weapon fired by Pete Ross. Under the influence of the Manhunters, Clark Kent's dual identity had not been a secret.
Superman was captured and immobilized by the Manhunter agents. He escaped and seemingly defeated the Whitney Manhunter only to find his victory had a tragic cost.
All of the Manhunter controlled humans had lapsed into a comatose state. With the help of the Spectre, Superman was able to enter a Manhunter created world to fight for the lives of the people of Smallville. The Whitney Manhunter was possessed and finally destroyed by the Spectre.
The Justice League invaded the Manhunter homeworld on Orinda. The world was protected from the Green Lanterns by the yellow sands and yellow particles in the atmosphere. Below the sands, the Manhunter installation was yellow hued.
Green Lanterns Hal Jordan, Arisia, and Katma Tui-Stewart of the Green Lantern Corps of Earth met G'nort as he stumbled through the planet. They later met up with Driq of the Green Lantern Corps of the Klyminade, who had come to free the captive Harbinger.
The Justice League faced hundreds of Manhunters as Doctor Fate located the Manhunters' central intelligence. Superman used his heat vision to destroy the Manhunter "birthing chambers" which woke the ultimate Manhunter, the massive Highmaster.
The destruction was a set back, but the Highmaster could rebuild elsewhere. It left Orinda, which began to fall apart in its absence. The Highmaster was pursued by the Justice League but escaped once again to hunt down the Oans in their hidden realm.
A failed spell of interdimensional transport by Doctor Fate forced the mage to concentrate the gathered heroes' life forces into Hal Jordan and Superman. The life force-charged heroes pursued the Highmaster across the dimensional gulf. They were able to cut through the obstacles the Highmaster placed to defeat them.
After reaching the Guardians' secret retreat, the heroes were divided by the Highmaster. Superman was trapped by a gravity inducer, but managed to escape. A temporal accelerator field placed by the Highmaster caused Hal Jordan's power ring to use up its energy in less than twenty-four hours. Powerless, Jordan called upon the Guardians for help. As living power batteries, the Oans could easily defeat the Highmaster.
The Guardians and Zamarons had been intangible but became visible to communicate with Jordan. The Highmaster had forced Green Lantern to luring the Oans out into the open. It was free to strike.
The Highmaster was ready to destroy the Oans but for the interference of Superman. The Man of Steel battered the Manhunter as the emerald warrior was supercharged by the Guardians' energy. During the fight, Superman had been blasting the Highmaster with his heat vision. The Manhunter was glowing red hot, Jordan was able to destroy the once-yellow Highmaster. After its destruction, the Manhunters would go into suicidal overdrive. There would be no way the Guardians could stop them.
An undersea starship of the Manhunters was captured by Aquaman and Aqualad. Though the Manhunters self-destructed rather than accepting capture, the heroes determined the ship was not designed for under the sea, but for under the Earth. The heroes staged an attack on the Manhunters' final, subterranean base.
Returning from their battles in space, Superman and Hal Jordan's team joined Batman's strike force. The Manhunters knew their plans had failed. They planned to destroy the Earth to stop the heroes. Though his friends believed he had joined the Manhunters, Booster Gold proved them all wrong by stopping the detonation of the Manhunter weapon.
With the apparent end of the Manhunter threat, the Chosen were "propelled to the future" by the life forces of Herupa Hando Hu and Nadia Safir. The effort was ultimately fatal to the Guardian and Zamaron. The Chosen would go on to become the New Guardians.
There was some Manhunter activity after the events of Millennium. Manhunters attacked Harbinger, though she defeated them alongside Starfire of the New Titans. Harbinger ultimately decided to join the New Guardians.
Shaw would once again adopt the identity of Manhunter, this time as a freelance bounty hunter. He worked with the Suicide Squad at times, and even accepted a mission to track down the missing covert government organization known as Argent. He would also capture supervillains for profit.
The Manhunter programming still carried some influence, though Shaw did manage to break the mental chains. He was helped a great deal by N'Lasa, who had been freed from the androids and lived in their Tibetan base. N'Lasa told Shaw of the original, noble, purpose of the Manhunters.
Shaw had a final confrontation with the assassin Dumas before returning the Manhunter baton to N'Lasa. He would later need its might as part of a secret team sent to combat Eclipso.
The Creeper, Wildcat II, Major Victory, Doctor Midnight II, Peacemaker, Commander Steel, and Manhunter were sent to Parador, a nation controlled by Eclipso. The heroes were mercilessly butchered by the God of Vengeance. The power baton of the Manhunters was returned to N'Lasa. If there will be another Manhunter has yet to be determined.
In the present, the Manhunters are believed to be completely defeated. What the future holds has yet to be seen.
One of the Manhunters, Laurel Kent, survived into the 30th Century. She posed as a descendent of the 20th Century's Superman and was one of the Legion of Super-Heroes until her Manhunter programming reactivated itself. Laurel Kent returned to the Manhunters' Himalayan base, far too late to help the Manhunter cause. She was destroyed.
Whether or not this future will come to pass has yet to be seen. Laurel Kent's alternate future was created by the dueling forces of Mordru and the Time Trapper. Evidently this reality was erased during Parallax's failed attempt to manipulate the time stream.
Over billions of years, the Manhunters spoke a variety of oaths
"No Evil Escapes the Manhunters!"