Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Haunt Vol. 1

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Greg Capullo, Ryan Ottley, and Todd McFarlane

I never had any desire to read Haunt.  Sure, Robert Kirkman was involved, as was his Invincible collaborator Ryan Ottley, but the fact that this was a Todd McFarlane-driven project left a cold taste in my mouth.  Even after I began reading his Sam and Twitch issues, and was surprised that they were actually decent, I saw this series as a 90s throwback that held nothing for me.

Then, it was announced that Joe Casey and Nathan Fox would take over the comic, and my interest was piqued.  Casey is an imaginative writer who loves to mess with the sacred cows of established comics characters, and Nathan Fox is in the select company of artists frenetic and crazy enough to keep up with him.  The thing is, their debut issue (#19) did not do a single thing to explain the series to new readers, and that gave me enough of an impetus to read the first volumeof the series, to get a better sense of things.

And, for the most part, I learned that my earlier caution was highly justified.  This is not a very good comic, unfortunately.  There are kernels of a good comic, but the whole thing groans under the weight of what McFarlane and Kirkman are trying to do.

Kurt Kilgore is a super-agent for some secretive government agency that does secret government agency stuff (there's no need to really explain this stuff, because comics readers know about this kind of thing).  He is abducted, interrogated, and killed after botching a mission that involves some Dr. Mengele type German in South America.  People are looking for a notebook that he left behind or lost.

His brother, Daniel, is a crappy priest who likes to visit a prostitute (always the same one).  Suddenly, he can speak to his dead brother, and they can merge their spirits so that he wears a superhero costume, and can shoot webby ectoplasm stuff that kind of looks like sperm.  Together, they help the secret government agency deal with the people who are now attacking them looking for that notebook.  Hear that creaking?  Me too - it's on almost every page.

What amazes me is that almost no one reacts to how strange this situation is, and there is no attempt to explain why Kurt isn't really dead.  Or where the jizz comes from.  We know where though - McFarlane wanted to do some Spider-Man stuff, and some spy stuff all at once.

I will say that the combination of Greg Capullo on layouts, with Ryan Ottley penciling, and then McFarlane inking (for this volume at least) is kind of a perfect storm of unfortunate art.  All of these artists are much better on their own (well, I'm not sure about McFarlane - he's kind of the weak link these days).  Ryan Ottley's work on Invincible has been brilliant from the jump, and looking at this here, I feel bad for ripping on Greg Capullo's work on Batman - it is so much better than this.

Anyway, I was never the audience for a comic like this.  Were it not for Casey and Fox coming aboard, this series would have remained off my radar.  I must commend McFarlane and Kirkman for letting these guys take over their character - it's leading to much better comics already.  Similar to what Rob Liefeld is doing with properties like Prophet and Glory, it is nice to see people with real indie cred get a chance at doing what they want with indie titles - especially when the original issues of those comics are so bland and uninspiring.

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