Haunt #1 - I'm Not Cleaning THIS Up
Haunt #1 finally answers the question of what would happen if the Venom Symbiote from Spider-Man were to possess Patrick Swayze's character from the 1990 romantic comedy, Ghost at the exact moment he ejaculated: he would become a murderous crime fighter from beyond the grave with the power to kill people using what can only be described as Ecto-Semen. It's an old school Image comic everybody!
And...it's pretty good. If it has a flaw it's that it presents you with a dead vigilante who lives in his brother's body and shoots ghost cum at people but then somehow expects you to take it seriously. Very, very seriously. McFarlane's inks are apparently mixed from the blood of the Dark Lord Morgoth's molten black heart and are largely responsible for much of the terminally moody atmospherics. Fortunately, Greg Capullo's layouts keep the angst from leaking into other panels and halting the flow of the story. And, really, there's no point complaining about the inks because that's probably the principle reason you bought this comic (unless a Review Group forced you to). The first half of the story revolves around the traditional Confessional from the Church of Latter Day Clichés in which a character asks a clergyman to describe his motivation to the audience, provide any exposition that the character wouldn't feasibly reveal under other circumstances and exonerates the writer for his lack of imagination. This is an exceedingly grim comic but then, as a slightly knowing throwback to the early Image output, that's about right, really.
Image started out as a place for people disgruntled with the derivative, indulgent and creatively emaciated state of mainstream comics to make derivative, indulgent and creatively emaciated comics in a completely different building where they could wear their baseball hats sideways. Last week, I gave a brief overview of the mind of a pubescent teenager/manchild and the kind of comic books it produces, well early Image was basically the logical conclusion of that. It was the comic book medium's long overdue hormonal rebellion (delayed for decades by the infantile obsessions of the Big Two, thank you very much Dr. 'Your Penis Is Evil' Werthram) in which the teenager attempts to assert his independence by childishly copying the corporate mascots and spokespeople of international conglomerates. For most teenagers this means imitating the fashions of some prick like Bono or whatever the latest entry in the 'millionaires who tell people to give their money away' genre is these days. For comic book fans, that meant creating an X-Treme version of Superman whose approach to fighting crime involved using someone's lungs for boxing gloves.
They were artists with nothing to draw.
Since then, our late bloomer has developed into a fine upstanding young man who could teach the Big Two a thing about maturity. His acne has cleared up, his voice no longer quavers mid sentence and he has a string of successes under his wing, no few of which are written by Robert Kirkman. He no longer needs to take a Marvel or DC character and just add the word 'blood' or 'strike' to the title. And let's not forget that from the start the Image folks were a company with the simple and incalculably important desire to create their own and own their creations. Image needed to happen and I, for one, am glad it did. Haunt is a gentle and affectionate homage to the days of people drinking a mutilated criminal's stomach juice through his own spine and as such it's a pretty good demonstration of how far the company has come. All they really needed were a few good writers.