|Created by||Bruce Harlick|
|Full name||Donald Hunter or Donald Henderson|
|Place of origin||Earth|
|Notable aliases||The Marksman|
Huntsman is the adopted crime-fighting identity of Donald Hunter, and is a member of the League of Champions. He was originally based on a character named Donald "Marksman" Henderson created by Bruce Harlick for the role-playing game Champions.
The comic book incarnation of the Huntsman first appeared in the six-issue Champions limited series, published by Eclipse Comics in 1986-1987. At this point he still used the alias the Marksman and last name Henderson from his role-playing game origins. Since Eclipse was unwilling to continue publishing the Champions comics, writer Dennis Mallonee used his own company – Hero Comics, later Heroic Publishing – to launch a Champions unlimited series.
A few months after, Hero gave the Marksman his own monthly series, under the assumption he was the most popular of the Champions. Hero Comics even asked readers to vote for which Champion should get their own series after work on The Marksman #1 was already underway, confident he would win. In fact, as Mallonee admitted after the series launch, the Marksman came in a distant third in the poll, after Flare and Icestar. Mallonee offered the book to veteran role-playing game writer (but first-time comic writer) Steve Perrin, while Pete McDonnell penciled and (after a pinch-hit from Jim Janes on #1) Jeff Albrecht did inks.
Reader response to the creative team was positive, but the fact remained that the character was not popular enough to hold his own series, and The Marksman was the worst-selling of the four titles in the Hero Comics lineup. The series was shortly dropped to bimonthly status. Half a year later, Hero Comics's financial troubles forced them to cancel most of their lineup, including The Marksman. Officially the series had only run five issues, but a Marksman annual was published at roughly the same time #6 had been scheduled to appear, and its contents were what would have been issues 6 and 7. The character continued to appear in Champions for a few more months, until Hero Comics folded.
In 1990, Innovation Comics helped Dennis Mallonee revive the Champions series, now titled The League of Champions, for three issues. After that, "The Marksman" was again out of action for a short while, but the black-and-white boom of the early 90s allowed Hero Comics to revive under the name Heroic Publishing. With the fourth edition of the Champions RPG, Heroic began differentiating some of its character from those of the game. At the request of Bruce Harlick, Heroic changed the character's name to the Huntsman in order to differentiate him from Harlick's original character, and his surname was changed from Henderson to Hunter. Curiously, this mirrored the introduction of the character Adam Hunter (the Seeker), another enhanced super-soldier similar to both the Marksman and the Huntsman, in Champions: The New Millennium (between the fourth and fifth editions of the regular game). It is unclear whether this was coincidence, a one-way influence, or a two-way influence. The reconned Huntsman regularly featured in The League of Champions, including a three-part solo story which ran as a back-up in issues 5–7.
He was also a back-up feature in Rose #1–4, a flipping of his own series, in which Rose had held the back-up feature. He was also a supporting character in the lead feature, and in issue 3 he confessed his love for Rose. The two characters later married. Heroic Publishing closed its doors once more in 1993.
In 2004, Heroic Publishing returned with Flare (vol. 3) #1. The issue's backup story had the Huntsman as a guest star, his first appearance in over a decade. Though the Huntsman has yet to return as a regular feature, he continues to make occasional guest appearances through Heroic Publishing's lineup, and some of his solo features have been reprinted.
Appearances in popular culture
- An illustration by Mark Williams featuring the Marksman appears on the cover of the 1982 book The Super Supplement! Champions II by Bruce Harlick.
- An illustration by Mike Witherby of the Marksman being overrun by villains appears on the cover of the 1984 book Enemies III.
- The Huntsman is a character in the Flare card game.