Haunt #19 Review
- Published on Thursday, 01 December 2011 14:46
- Written by Andrenn
Haunt was an exciting series debuting two years ago from Robert Kirkman and Todd McFarlane. A long time Image fan's dream team up. We are now 19 issues later and Kirkman has left the title. McFarlane chose to start things off fresh with a new creative team and a new direction for the series. With all the months of hype finally over, does Haunt #19 revive the series or is Haunt all alone in an old dark house? Let's find out!
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Nathan Fox
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Story Rating: 7 Ghosts out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Ghosts out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Ghosts out of 10
Synopsis: The Kilgore brothers, Daniel and Kurt, have been working for a mysterious agency for a while now. The same agency Kurt was once a part of before being murdered and coming back as a ghost. Now the agency has suddenly vanished and everything the brothers know is being turned upside as a strange new organization seems to be after them.
The Good: Haunt #19 is a good start to a run that is already showing a lot of promise. While this issue is not a perfect start, there are some problems here, the overall product was more of what I had been hoping for. Joe Casey and Nathan Fox have burst onto the scene and things are looking up for the young series under their care.
I should briefly mention the Kirkman days of Haunt, the previous 18 issues. Kirkman's first issue of Haunt was a decent but very flawed start. It showed promise but, at the same time, it was too uneven. Over time, Kirkman over came that and with each issue (not including the mediocre sixth issue) the title improved. By issue #12, Haunt was one of my favorite Image titles on the stands.
Then came the previous arc, the Apparition storyline. To sum it up: It was like all the problems the first issue had stretched out into five issues. Though there were some good moments here and there. And Capullo's artwork was always a highlight. Issue #18 was an absolute mess of McFarlane shamelessly copying and pasting artwork from previous issues and even covers. And that is where Haunt has been up to today.
Casey as the writer brings plenty of hope right from the start. McFarlane promised that Casey was being given keys to the car and allowed to drive it wherever he wanted. When David Hine had the same control over Spawn it meant great things for the series. Add that Joe Casey is one of the most brilliant and insanely great writers in the industry and I had high hopes for this issue.
The real strength of Haunt #19 is when Casey is doing his thing. Putting in somewhat weird and absolutely cool things into his comics. The opening page and closing pages are perfect examples of that.
The opening hints at a darker turn for our hero and while it is only two pages it is very effective in enticing me to see what will happen next. Casey instantly won me over at least for a little bit. I am already interested to see where he will go from there. Casey delivers an interesting glimpse into the future and there is already plenty of promise just by the opening two pages.
Casey also introduces the villains for his run in these opening pages. I really do not have a lot to say on them since, at this point, we know nothing about them. Just that they are a church that seems hidden in the Catholic church and that are up to no good. The introduction to them is only two pages and they are well written pages, but I will reserve any judgment on them as villains until we see them in action.
Where Haunt #19 falters is in the middle with Daniel and Kurt. I will have more on that in The Bad but there is still some good here. Mostly with Daniel. Joe Casey does not lose the character of Daniel Kilgore that Kirkman did a good job of developing in the previous 18 issues. While he did not get to do much with Daniel in this issue, Casey did a good job of capturing the character's voice and I was thankful for that. It is easy for a new writer to ditch some of the character traits that the previous writer established.
The strongest point in the issue is the final few pages, the ones we have probably seen the most when this new creative team has been hyped up. This is the scene where Haunt is under attack from the mysterious armed figures. Joe Casey is a writer who can do great character work on top of crazy great action. Just looking at one of his most recent creations, Butcher Baker, is a reminder of that. Here he gets to show off that great action writing and it shines.
The action scene at the end is great for two reasons. The first being that Casey is introducing a new character trait for Daniel. Daniel seems resistant to the violence and gore he did not seem to mind much in the previous issues. This is probably because he is confused about what is going on, but it still brings up an interesting new dynamic for Daniel. Haunt has been a very violent book so if one of our two main characters is suddenly not so certain to go slaughtering baddies left and right it could be a nice twist on things.
The second reason this action scene works is the excellent artwork from Nathan Fox. Fox was brought on board because he and Casey had worked together before but also because McFarlane wanted a new take on the art. Something fresh from what Ottley and Capullo did for the series, which I applaud right away. I am always happy to see when a creator is smart enough to know that fans do not just want a poor imitation of the same creative team we had before.
Fox really shines during the action but his artwork is all around great stuff. His style is very different from what came before but that is far from a bad thing. There still feels like some consistency in the overall product thanks to FCO Plascencia remaining on as the colorist. Plascencia also gets to shake things up with far more vibrant and exciting colors than he did with Ottley and Capullo.
Fox' style is hard to pin down. It has got a very animated quality but not like Ryan Ottley's art has. It looks more like newspaper comics. Yet, Fox still pulls off an intimidating scene on the first page and really excels when we get to see Haunt cutting loose. So he is not bound by that style at all. It's exciting artwork and a nice fit for the new feel Casey is giving Haunt.
The Bad: Haunt #19 falters mostly with how it handles what preceded it. Casey makes two major mistakes when handling what he has inherited. The first is that when he does address just Daniel and Kurt he introduces Kurt as having something wrong with him. Kurt is being very strange and out of character.
Now this is supposed to be mysterious and strange and for long time readers that's fine, but it does not do a very good job for new readers. While Casey at least has the characters establish that Kurt is acting strangely, for new readers that does not mean anything. He is a ghost. That is already strange as it is. I am hopeful that Casey addresses this right away because if not it could leave a lot of new readers scratching their heads when Kurt is eventually back to normal.
Then there is the issue of the agency. Casey seems to have wiped this entire part of Haunt off the map. While I am hopeful that like Kurt's strange behavior this is just temporary, I am not sure it is the best way to start a run. There is also a major character death at the end of the issue and by that point it feels like Casey is trying to just take everything Kirkman did and push it to the side for his work.
There is nothing wrong with doing your own thing when you start a run on a series. But the way Casey is handling it feels like a gigantic waste of time for the rest of us who spent the last two years reading Haunt. All of a sudden that is all gone and we just wasted money on 18 issues getting to know and be invested in it. While I am hopeful that Casey turns this around and brings the agency back, for now it feels like a wrong way to start his run.
While Fox's art was excellent there was something that kept it from getting a 9. In both the early and later pages there are a few times where it is hard to tell what something is supposed to be. There will be a mess of what I assume are bodies and other things and it is just a little too much. Fox crammed a little too much stuff in a panel here or a page there. It is not a huge problem, but it is one that bothered me enough and one that has me a little worried about how Fox will draw future issues.
Overall: Haunt #19 is a good start to a run that already is showing lots of potential. While Casey clearly has some issues to work out as he takes over Haunt, overall, I am hopeful for the future of this series in his hands. Casey is a writer with the talent to give constant insane fun to his comics on a monthly basis. Haunt is a title with enough potential and possibility that I think he can take it great places.
I am giving Haunt #19 a recommendation that you should check it out. If you read the series previously but dropped it I definitely say you should return and check out what Casey delivers in this issue. I am a bit hesitant recommending this title to new readers, but the fact remains that Haunt #19 is very new reader friendly. There is really nothing you need to know about Haunt other than the premise to read this issue and get into it. So check out Haunt #19 if you want the start of what looks to be a wild ride into nightmares.