The debut of new creative team Joe Casey and Nathan Fox on “Haunt” was in stark contrast from what came before; their second issue pushes things even further. Captured by the Second Church, Daniel Kilgore is tortured and imprisoned while his ghostly brother Kurt makes snarky remarks and lets it all happen without making an effort to help his brother out. Within that scenario, Casey has set “Haunt” apart from every other (pseudo-) superhero comic. It creates a tension that’s not often seen. And, of course, there’s Fox’s artwork to push things even further. Two issues in, the new creative team is an unquestionable success.
Much of this issue focuses on the Second Church struggling to figure out what happened at the end of last issue when they sent a team to retrieve Daniel and encountered a creature that slaughtered many of their men. Casey presents the organization and their leader in a manner that shows he’s put a lot of thought into their construction. The issue opens with them torturing Daniel while reading passages from their Bible with book names like ‘Abyssius’ and ‘Nekron.’ Small touches like that flesh the group out, showing how they differ from other religions. Their leader’s method of figuring out what happened also reveals him as a cautious, thoughtful and ruthless man.
The relationship between Daniel and Kurt is broken down for reasons that aren’t entirely clear yet. Kurt seems to relish in the pain his brother is receiving, making jokes and quoting song lyrics. The set up of two people coming together to form a superpowered being isn’t new, nor is the two not getting along, but never has it been taken to such an extreme, particularly with brothers. Even a rescue by a strange short-wearing, katana-carrying, bearded man by the name of Still Harvey Tubman doesn’t entirely make things better when he has to berate Kurt (who he can see and hear somehow) into getting off his ghostly butt and merge with his brother to bring Haunt out.
Throughout the issue, Nathan Fox does with pencils and ink what Casey does with words: fleshes out the Second Church and shows the tension between brothers. The Second Church is a strange mesh of technology and medieval aesthetics, which Fox shows in a cohesive and stunning fashion. His pages bristle with life and energy. Every character is in movement or has a strange look showing their inner thoughts or is at least composed in a manner that jumps off the page. His second issue in, his character work with the brothers Kilgore is already leaps and bounds past what he did in the first issue.
“Haunt” ends 2011 with a pair of strong, entertaining issue from Joe Casey and Nathan Fox. The new direction is surprising and entertaining. At this rate, “Haunt” may be one of the best comics of 2012.