My most anticipated comic of 2009 is here! Yes with a lot of hype as the epic return of Todd McFarlane (even though he returned to comics a year ago with Spawn #185, whatever) Haunt debuts looking to impress. As a fan of McFarlane’s Spawn and Kirkman’s Invincible I was very excited to read this issue. Does it blow me away or is this a weak debut? Let’s find out!
Written: Robert Kirkman and Todd McFarlane
Pencils: Ryan Ottley
Layouts: Greg Capullo
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Inks: Todd McFarlane
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We open with a man talking to a prostitute he just had sex with. She asks what he’s doing, he says he’s leaving unless she wants to give him a freebie. She tells him she seems him too often for that and asks if they are up for next Thursday. The man has a somber look in his eye as he says he doesn’t know and that he’ll call her as he leaves the room.
As he exits the hotel he starts smoking. We see he is a priest. He walks up to a chapel and a man tells him he’s late, again. The priest is angry and tells them to just get this over with. (Daniel is the priest and Kurt is the CIA Agent) Kurt starts the “forgive me father for I have sinned” bit but Daniel tells him to cut the shit and get on with it. After Daniel asks how many did Kurt kill this time Kurt whispers “Not Many”
We cut to a flashback as Kurt cuts himself from a body bag that was supposed to be taken into a facility. Rather it was dumped into a mass grave site. As he cuts himself free he kills a guard, gets spotted and kills the other guard. Taking his ID card he gets into the facility and soon meets up with the Dr. he’s supposed to rescue.
The Dr. insists he has to get his subject but Kurt complains that the corpse had better not slow them down. The Dr. says he stopped working on corpses long ago as we see a room full of people that have been grossly deformed and look very sick. We see a young boy who was the subject the Dr. wanted. Kurt, in anger, shoots the Dr.
After Kurt leads the people away a woman steals the Dr.’s bag (oooh, foreshadowing!) and Kurt then in a fit of rage guns down the facility and gets the people to safety. Kurt says he did the right thing as we come back to Daniel and Kurt talking in the confessional. Daniel says he doesn’t know what to do and leaves. He asks if their done and when Kurt asks him what’s up with him Daniel tells him that outside of the Confessional Kurt is dead to him and he only does this so some other priest doesn’t have to bear Kurt’s sins.
Kurt is walking on the streets when he notices something. He reaches for his gun when a woman sticks a needle into his neck and he is rushed into a van by 2 big men. We then see him bloodied and beaten up, a man asking him where the notebook is. Kurt insists he doesn’t know. After the man talks to a woman she says to cut off his dick (she is the most evil villain ever! Forget Darksied or Dr. Doom) and if he doesn’t talk after that then kill him.
We cut later to Kurt’s funeral. Daniel is in a limo as Kurt’s ghost is telling him to go to Amanda. Daniel refuses saying that Kurt made sure he’d never see Amanda again. Also he insists that he’s just crazy and seeing things. Daniel finally agrees but only if Kurt stops talking as their mother is coming up to the limo.
Later that night Daniel meets Amanda at the apartment her and Kurt shared. He comes in, they try to talk but after a while nothing happens. Amanda begs Daniel to stay the night since she can’t sleep in an empty house. Later we see Daniel sleeping on the couch.(What? No transition or an “all right, if you want” moment? Wow…annoying)
Kurt wakes up Daniel and Daniel is angry. 2 assassins break in and Daniel gets up and tells them he’s calling the police. One of them shoots at Daniel, Kurt jumps into Daniel and Daniel suddenly transforms into Haunt. As Haunt they rips of the assassins’ heads and after this Daniel asks is Kurt is there and says to himself that maybe he’s not crazy.
The Good: Despite how excited I was for this issue I came in with the open mind that it very well could be a slow start. Not surprisingly this issue didn’t blow me away but I can definitely say it was an enjoyable start to what could be a great new series.
I really love the dynamic between these two. Kirkman spares nothing in showing they do not like each other at all. Daniel is very much so hateful of Kurt and the second they meet you can tell there’s a deep history of hatred between them that I look forward to seeing as the series progresses.
I enjoyed the scene between Daniel and Amanda for how well the awkward tension builds. You can tell there is a history between these two. I’m guessing Daniel and he where lovers but Kurt stole her away or something. Though that’s a random guess. A development I look forward to seeing in the next few issues.
Now the flashback with Kurt when he goes and rescues the people was a nice scene. It gave us some cool action but really it was just an enjoyable but at the same time cryptic scene with some hints as to what happens in future issues. I’m guessing Kurt’s actions along with the doctor’s experiments are what lead to him becoming Haunt.
What little we did meet of the cast was fairly well done. Daniel is a jackass but at the same time he’s at least interesting. I liked the idea of Kurt having morals and I am curious to see what happened between the brothers and if Amanda has anything to do with it.
Though I have some major criticisms for the art. Half the time it looks pretty good, with some great detail, emotion conveyed nicely and nice dark mood in the coloring. The other half is just…bad. While the layout designs by Capullo are distinct and work well I think the inking by McFarlane is the main culprit here.
I loved the final 3 pages as we got to show off Haunt and what a badass hero he will be. It excited me and left me eager for more next time and that’s exactly how any comic should end really for a reader.
Also I know the costume has gotten a lot of hate. Being called Spider-Spawn and all that. But I personally really enjoy the costume and think it’s cool. Sure it’s not 100% original but it’s still fairly unique. I like it a lot.
This issue had a lot of good points and solid character moments. The art, problematic as it got at times, still had some brilliant flashes and when you leave off the comic with the reader being pumped and excited for more I think there is at least some accomplishment in it all.
The Bad: Though in the long run try as I might I just can’t really say this was a great read. It was a good read, very good, but not great. With some annoying transition such as Daniel and Amanda talking to suddenly Daniel sleeping on her couch. It’s all very annoying and moments like that take me out of the story.
I know we don’t have to show every moment of the conversation but a quick panel of Amanda going to bed and Daniel laying on the couch or something would have been nice. She just begs him to stay since she’s so sad and the next page she’s sleeping on the couch.
I was also annoyed that we didn’t get any build up to Kurt’s ghost. One minute Kurt is dead the next he’s talking to Daniel. Again, a little panel or even a solid page of Kurt haunting Daniel would have been appreciated as this jarring storytelling is very weak and frustrating to see coming from Kirkman. Even though he’s had similar problems in the past with Invincible.
All in all the character dynamic only goes so far. While I can handle that we don’t know everything about these characters I do think a little more fleshing out of Daniel could have helped. He’s pretty much just a solid jackass and we see no redeeming qualities to him at all.
Now I don’t think every hero needs to be a nice guy with a heart of gold. Even Spider-man and Batman have their bad moments or can do bad stupid things but in those actions we can see a glimmer of a good person. Daniel is just a hateful guy who doesn’t really interest me as much as Kurt does.
I am hopeful that this is more intentional so that as the series progresses Daniel becomes more interesting as the series goes on. For now he’s fairly one dimensional when compared to Kurt.
Half the time the art looks overly lined. I think someone who works better with Ottley would have been a smart choice to Ink his work here. I love McFarlane’s art but his style of inks and Ottley’s style of pencils are like mixing oil and water.
Still for the most part the art never got terrible. It was just weak half the time. The coloring was still great. Though all around the art was messy and we need a new inker here ASAP.
Overall: This was a pretty good and enjoyable read. As I said it’s not great or as amazing as I’d been hoping but we still got a good read. If the creative team can work fast to take care of the art issues (getting a new inker) and the story can unravel naturally and become more coherent as to it’s little threads then it could succeed better.
Kirkman and McFarlane fans like myself will no doubt get something out of it. It’s not Kirkman’s best writing for sure and for all of it’s rough spots it can definitely be considered a diamond in the rough. All it needs is some hard work and this could definitely be one of the best ongoings out there.