I don’t normally start reading comic books a year and a half (or seventeen issues, whichever is greater, since we all know very few comics hold a monthly release schedule nowadays) into the run, but in this case, the preview on Comic Book Resources set me to thinking that it might be worth taking a deeper look at.
I read the book, and while I may not be able to tell you who every character is, nor could I draw you an organizational chart to depict how the characters relate to one another, I can tell you this much: this is a classic Image comic book. When Image launched, the books were driven and sold based on their art. The founding fathers (yeah, it was just as weird to type it) of Image were, after all, artists first and foremost. This book is right there. Even though Robert Kirkman writes it, there is no denying that the driving force of this title is the art.
The strange thing is, the art is by Greg Capullo, the one-time heir apparent to Todd McFarlane, but Capullo is joined by a smattering of other creators credited with art chores. Capullo’s style is present, especially as “Haunt” (what a weird moniker and further proof all the good names are used) makes his way through this comic that feels all at once like a mash-up of “Spawn,” “Venom,” “Spider-Man,” “Deadman,” and “Firestorm.” This isn’t “ultimate” Greg Capullo work, but there is no mistaking his style is present in this comic.
The general gist of this issue throws Haunt – who is an amalgamation of two characters and converses with himself in a manner very reminiscent of the Ronnie Raymond/Martin Stein Firestorm of yesteryear – into a desperate scramble for his life running away from an apparition that is invisible to “normal” people, but is not unlike Brimstone (from DC Comics) crossed with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. In his fleeing, Haunt makes his escape by clinging to a conveniently placed helicopter. The resulting escape gives us a little more information about who Haunt is, but not enough for me to really figure it out. Likewise, there is an appearance and a sacrifice made by a character who apparently is dear to Haunt, but that certainly doesn’t end well.
Not knowing any of the characters or situations, this issue threw a lot at me, but not enough to the point where I couldn’t just sit down, read it and enjoy it for the absurd fusion that it is. Kirkman’s story is action-first, characters second and the art fits. There’s a little bit of everything action-oriented in this book, from magical spells to demonic apparitions to helicopter chases and heroic saves.
While this book is not carving new literary territory in grand sweeping motions, it did provide an interesting tale with some over-the-top visuals that offered more than enough for me to come back and take another look at this book soon.
In typical fashion, I happened across this book at the wrong time. Kirkman and Capullo are on their way out, but the story they’re leaving with is certainly entertaining enough for me to continue to check in until then. Maybe another issue or two will help me figure out just who everyone is and why it matters to this story. If nothing else, the book has a captivating visual quality to it.