Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Haunt #19

Image Comics, 20 pages, $ 2.99

Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Nathan Fox
Colorist: Fco Plascencia
Letterer: Comicraft

This is the first issue by the new creative team of Joe Casey and Nathan Fox, who worked together before on the highly enjoyable Dark Reign: Zodiac miniseries at Marvel, a couple of years ago. And when was the last time you saw a “New Creative Team!” tagline one a comic? I have no idea what Haunt looked like in its previous 18 issues, but I imagine the tag is merited, given the names.

Well, it’s a Joe Casey superhero comic, all right. It’s all there: the intense Let’s Do Stuff attitude that’s dripping from every page, the sex, the mad over-the-top action action and bloodshed and, perhaps most importantly, a collaborator who makes this one of the best-looking, best-told and visually most unique genre titles in publication.

Mr. Casey seems to have an amazing knack for making comics with some of the most exciting artists around: Nathan Fox, Chris Burnham, Nick Dragotta, Tom Scioli, Andy Suriano, Mike Huddleston, Eric Canete, Charlie Adlard, Chris Weston, etc., and so on. That’s a damn impressive list.

As far as the plot or the concept are concerned, I’m not sure what’s meant to be going on. What I gather is that there’s a guy named Daniel, who lives in New York City, is kind of a top-secret agent (or something) and is frequently visited by the ghost of his brother Kurt.

Kurt talks to Daniel and, if need be, can bond with him, resulting in a visual and superhuman abilities more than a little bit reminiscent of Venom, a Marvel character co-created by Todd McFarlane in the late 1980s—McFarlane being, of course, also the co-creator and owner of Haunt.

Apart from that, there’s not much yet to sink your teeth into. There are two prologues that I’m sure will mean more to me a couple of issues down the road; a missing roommate named Steph; a bizarre-looking nightmare; and a former prostitute (?) friend Daniel has casual sex with—and then there’s the bloodshed, of course.

It’s a lot of bloodshed, in fact, and comparing this with the grim violence that are so popular among the creators of DC’s “New 52” books, the reason why it works here is that Casey and Fox leave absolutely no doubt that this is some over-the-top, fucked-up shit going on here.

Those DC guys, on the other hand, all the time use violence and bloodshed as a means to show that Blue Beetle is a very serious character in very serious situations. Which is not how it works, of course. The sex in Haunt looks more real and intense than the sex in Catwoman, too, for that matter.

On balance, I don’t quite have a clue yet what’s meant to be going on here, but I think I like it. It looks interesting, certainly, and there’s a kind of creative zest and ambition here that I enjoy tremendously. It’s the rare kind of superhero comic that can afford to go totally off the brink—and knows it.

Grade: B

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