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Review Group Haunt #1

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, October 13 2009 and posted in Reviews
Mr_Batman had the pick for new comics shipping October 7th and he selected Haunt #1 by Robert Kirkman, Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley and Greg Capullo.


The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

Kirkman and McFarlane and Ottley and Capullo, oh my!  It's been a Hauntapalooza here at the Outhouse over the past week, what did the Review Group think of the biggest new Image release in years?  Let's find out...

Review by MrBlack

I was pleasantly surprised by this comic. The story is intriguing ("In this issue, the main character dies!"), and the apparent rivalry between the two brothers sets up an interesting conflict. The scene transitions were a bit clunky in places, and the torture scene is over the top, but overall this was a solid first issue.

As for Haunt himself, I actually like the design, although I prefer Ryan Ottley's version over Todd McFarlane's. While I initially assumed this was a Spider-Man clone, the power set is actually pretty interesting, and I like the very organic, primal looking costume for the character. While the idea of a man combining with his ghost brother to form a super powered entity is, believe it or not, an old concept (see Captain Triumph), it is not exactly well trodden ground, and I can see Robert Kirkman getting a great deal of mileage out of the character.

The art from Ottley is, as always, fantastic. The faces are all very expressive, and the action sequences are dynamic without reaching Liefeld levels of ridiculousness. I am also quite the fan of Greg Capullo's panel layouts. He is not as original as Frank Quitely or J.H. Williams III, but he manages to walk a fine line between traditional layouts and more progressive work, and he does a great job using his layouts to draw attention to important scenes. The only downside is the inking, which is a bit messy and seems to take away from the fluidity of Ottley's pencils. It does add a "gritty" touch to the book, but I would prefer to have Cliff Rathburn here rather than McFarlane (odd that the two problems I have with the art are connected to the biggest name on the book).

I am still undecided as to whether I will continue with this series. It has some interesting ideas, and Ottley is always a lot of fun, but I do not know if it is enough to keep me entertained. Nonetheless, I think it was a solid first issue, and I would recommend checking it out.

Story: 7
Art: 8
Overall: 7.5

Review by Punchy


I give Haunt #1 a 7/10

Read Punchy's full review here: http://www.theouthousers.com/content/view/4576/228/

Review by Old Man

I did not like this book. It read like Kirkman was trying to be like Garth Ennis.

See, a preacher has sex with a prostitute, asks her for a freebie, smokes a cigarette, and is drawn to look like John Constantine. It's an Ennis book.

Two characters combine late in the book to become a badass character that brutally kills people. Then we see the two character's voices carrying on a conversation in their/its head. Holy Firestorm, Batman!

Add in that the badass character is only a re-drawn Venom, and that the cover is by a noted has-been, and that the interior art is pretty crappy, this gets a 3. And if I waited another day or two to review it, the score would only go down. I am disliking this more every minute.

And that's my short review. Excuse me now, as I need to go drink a beer or three to try to wash the taste of stomach acid out of my mouth a little.

Review by starlord

I don't have this book right in front of me so I'm doing this by memory, and to be honest, it wasn't very memorable. The characters seemed to be cut outs of arch-types and nothing felt new or different at all. In fact I had to go back a couple of times to pick up exactly who was who.

I also agree that it takes Kirkman a bit to get going at times and there was only one thing that I found really offsetting about this book, and it really wasn't his writing. It was the art.

I agree with Old Man that this new character seems like a blatant rip off of McFarland's Venom. And my loathing of Venom nearly rivals that of Wolverine. The rest of the art was okay, nothing to write home about.

In fact that's kind of how what I thought of the entire issue. Okay, but nothing to write home about.

Story: 5
Art: 3
My Score: 4

Review by Jude Terror

I never manage to read the books you guys review the same week as you review them, but it just so happens I have read this (because Image gave me a copy), so I have some comments:

Overall, I liked this more than I thought I would. When I looked at the cover a billion times while posting press releases, all I could think was "Why can't McFarlane design a character that doesn't look like Venom?" I mean, let’s be honest, Spawn looks like Venom. Haunt looks like Spawn. Maybe it's the love he seems to have for black and white costumes, I don't know. In any case, the cover didn't interest me in the book, but Kirkman's involvement did.

I see a lot of comments in this thread about how Kirkman takes a while to get going, but I think Kirkman's writing here is an exemplary use of the comic book medium. A few times in this book (for instance when I got to the page when the brothers are talking in the limo at the funeral), I had to stop and say "did I miss something?" But then I realized that I'm just not used to writers utilizing the comic book medium to its full potential.

In too many books, writers try too hard to write the comic like a movie, where we see every scene spelled out for us, but in a comic, we are able to see snapshots of the action and fill in the blanks between panels and pages with our minds. Kirkman forces the reader to do this with his writing here, and by doing so, forces the readers to exercise comic book reading muscles that have sadly atrophied in recent years due to the comic industry's cinematic identity crisis. This is a good thing.

The first issue fed us enough of a story to feel satisfied, and yet of course ended on a cliffhanger that demands we pick up the next issue. You can't ask much more than that of the writing. As for the art, I agree that the color palette makes Ottley's art look way different than it does on Invincible. Still, Ottley is competent is always, a master of his craft like a Ron Lim who can draw in several styles and produce quality work on every project without making it "all about him" with an outrageous style.
So now I score it I guess? Story - 8 Art - 7 Overall - 7.5? A surprisingly strong start with lots of potential on a book that could be a big deal for Image. Can't ask for anything more.

Review by prozacman

Haunt is a book I would have loved 10 years ago. I'm not sure if I'm still the audience for this type of comic book. Due to the fact that McFarlane hasn't done much himself in the world of comics in the last 10 years, I doubt that this book will get in the hands of people young enough to love the book.

It was immediately disappointing to find out that Todd McFarlane wasn't doing more of the art. I haven't been following most of the press on this book since the first announcement, so I was admittedly out of the loop. That being said, this was a book that was being billed as McFarlane's big comeback to comics. This is like getting tickets to a play starring your favorite actor, but when the curtain rises the understudy has taken his place. I've been a fan of GREG CAPULLO since his X-Force days, but I paid money to see Todd.

Now that I got my fanboy bitching out of the way, I'll try to review the book as if I had never heard of the creators.

To paraphrase one of my favorite movie quotes, Haunt is a book about people that are Bastards but not Fucking Bastards. The Kilgore brothers know they are bad guys but there are lines that even they won't cross. The type of people you don't want in your day to day life, but if there is a war you would gladly have them on your side. It's a book about bad people vs evil people. Lots of graphic violence and sexuality. All the things that I loved as a teenager and young adult.

Now that I'm getting older, a story needs to surprise me. Graphically violent action in and of it self is no longer a selling point for me. Violence can still be entertaining but if I see it coming it doesn't shock or excite me any more. In Haunt you can predict the story almost from the fist panel of each scene. It's not bad, just predictable. Maybe ROBERT KIRKMAN will have some big twist in the next couple of issues. Though in this economy, a lot of us can't afford to stick with a book until it finds its footing. If you're putting out a book with new characters just being good is not good enough. The first issue better WOW us.

Haunt is a book that will probably be more entertaining to young adult readers. Be that as it may, the selling point of the book is that it is a Todd McFarlane creation. I'm not sure if his name means anything to comic readers in their late teens and early 20s. For us older readers, Todd McFarlane ushered in an age of dynamic new style for comics. But that was due to his art more than any thing else. We would love to see him draw again. He doesn't need to usher in a new age again. Todd just has to put in a good effort and my generation will be in ecstasy. From there the new generation will want to see what the buzz is about. Without Todd McFarlane doing the art like he use to, Image Comics would probably be better off not even trying to sell it as a McFarlane book.


Review by Daringd

I was quite surprised by this, it didn’t suck. Is it straight out of the 90’s? Sure, parts of it are but you know what it ain’t such a bad thing. Kirkman and McFarlane created this together and you can really tell they put some effort into this. Ryan Ottley and Greg Capullo do an interesting job on art, Todd McFarlane then inks which I don’t know is a good thing. It makes the art look a bit Lenil Yu looking but not in a good way. I think once the art gets all the kinks worked out this will be a book I can’t wait to read month after month. As far as this first issue goes, lots a great stuff was done here defiantly a step in the right direction.

Overall 8.3/10

Review by 48THRiLLS

Robert Kirkman is probably my favorite writer and maybe that is the reason why I felt let down after reading this. I don't see this as something I could get into or continue reading. I actually was quite enjoying it up until the last 4 pages where the title character is introduced. I am indifferent on McFarlane, I never read his Spider-Man or Spawn stuff and I know he makes toys so me not liking this has nothing to do with my opinion of him... but this felt like sort of a cash grab, 'lets put Kirkman and McFarlane's name on this and see what happens.'

(Trying something different here)
- The dynamic between the brothers before and after Kurt's death.
- The torture scene made me chuckle a bit.
- Kirkman's writing keeps things interesting.
- The name of this book is just stupid.
- The name of this character is even more stupid.
- The character design may be the worst idea ever.
- Ottley's art is nowhere close to his Invincible stuff but that may be a by-product of McFarlane.
- The death of Kurt was really glossed over, I had to check to see if I was missing pages

So Kirkman writes a solid yet flawed story that is ruined by possibly one of the worst characters ever created, I mean c'mon he throws up his costume? WTF is that? I may have thought that was cool when I was 12 but that is just fucking stupid.

ART - 7
OVERALL - 6 (Minus 1 point for unoriginal title character)

Review by doombug

So this is going to be our horror super hero book replacement for Astounding Wolf-man. It's an interesting change of pace for a first issue.

Our lead character is a jerk priest with major demons both haunting him as well as secrets that he is very obviously hiding. His brother is very quickly shown as the hero and probably the better son who it's revealed later had a demon of his own.

Daniel the priest very obviously hates his job, his family and even a beautiful girl who he once I'm guessing had a thing for. Kurt the hero/spy seems to do the right thing all the time and really is the more likable character. Kirkman is able to weave between the two rather well and adds plenty of mystery and intrigue along the way.

The art team on the book is top notch and I couldn't disagree anymore with those saying Ottley is hurt by McFarlane's work here. I thought it showed a different style for one of my favorite artists and actually did a lot to change it up from Invincible.

For me the book really hit where I think it needed to. It had a bit of action and a lot of mystery especially the end which I think directly affects his last mission.

Story: 8
Art: 9
Overall: 8.5

Review by GLX

It read alright. Not really interested in what happens next, but I can't say that I had a bad time. The art was solid, though.

7.2* out of 10*

Review by young neil

I didn't hate this not one bit at all. To me Robert Kirkman's first issue always fall a bit flat. But the concept although dated worked and the art was great, just felt like a gritty invincible.

The one thing that bugged me was the scene with the two brothers in the car just after he's died. It's the first time we see Kurt after he's been murdered, and for the first coupe of panels I was trying to figure out who this new character was. Poorly handled page.

I thought this was an enjoyable step away from the super-her genre for Kirkman and after almost cutting this before I read the first issue, I'm on board at least for a little longer.

Story - 7
Art - 8.5
Overall - 7.75

Review by Kerny

This book has been taking some heat. Most calling it awful. I for one would have to............DISAGREE. Eff it, I liked this. Is it over the top? You betcha. Is it terribly orginial? Not really. Does the costume look all symbiote-y? Of course. (I have a Venom fetish) Is it violent? Oh yeah. Ottley's/Mcfarlane's/Capullo's art is nice. Expressive faces, cool violence, should probably get started on Invincible any day now heh....

I hope Daniel doesn't get on my nerves in the long run with his negativeness and baggage, Kurt seems like the cooler brother, but he's dead so alas. The true test with first issues is will I pick up the next issue based on this one? For me, the answer is yes.

Story 7.5
Art 8

Overall an 8. Because a 7.75 feels like a weird score to me to give

Review by Mr_Batman

Some people have slammed this book, while others have disagreed. I have to say I enjoyed this book, though I do think it had a few flaws. By no means did I think it was terrible. The story was an interesting one, and I thought Kurt was WAY more interesting than Daniel. The only problem I had was when they were transitioning between that girl saying to kill Kurt if he didn't say anything to the funeral. I know it was assumed that Kurt had died after that last panel, but I couldn't be sure. It was weird. He was alive last page, now he's dead, but his brother's "seeing" him. And I didn't understand the powers thing. Kurt kind of "dove" into Daniel if you will, but then he started throwing up a symbiote? I'm not sure I understood that, so if someone would care to explain.

As for the art, I thought it was really good. The gorier scenes were pretty intense, and even though the character design comes off unoriginal, it was still drawn well. (I especially loved when Kurt was killing all those people on his mission). I didn't have a problem with it at all.

Overall, a pretty good read. I would like to know where his powers came from or whatever. I guess I'll have to read on to find out....

Story- 7.5
Art- 8
Overall- 7.75

Review by PDH

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.

Story: 7
Art: 9
Overall: 8

Review by GHERU

Imagine that you are Todd McFarlane and the thing that you are most famous for (mostly) is the creation of Spawn - a mercenary with questionable values that is killed after disobeying / upsetting his higher-ups’ goals and is brought back to the world of the living through mysterious and mystical means - and you want to make a comeback. Now what would you do?

If you answered “Make the protagonist white and add a costume that makes it look like Spider-Man was the submissive one in a gay porn.” then you and McFarlane are on the same page.

I dunno, this book has a lot of potential but for a first issue it did not do the job of making me care, and the reason is that it felt like I had already read the book when it was called Spawn. Since this is really late in the week, and no one is really gonna read this review the only other thing I am going to say is that once McFarlane gets bored with this project like all Image founders are want to do (except Larsen) and Kirkman is left to his own devices, I’ll take another look.

Not a bad book, just not all that great.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 6.5

Review by amlah6

So the creative team on Haunt is certainly worthy of the hype and attention the book has gotten. Pairing arguably Image's premier creator from the 90's, Todd McFarlane, with Image's premier creator from the 00's, Robert Kirkman, probably creates a level of expectation that I'm not sure can be met. Unless of course you subscribe to the interweb group think that all things 90's are evil in which case you probably didn't buy this book anyway.

Traditionally, Robert Kirkman's comics take a few issues to get going and Haunt certainly seems to fall into that category. There's not a lot here in terms of storyline that hasn't been done before. The little bits that are there to shock, don't, and the character bits don't create much intrigue. There do seem to be little bits spread throughout the issue that are there to be expounded upon later so there is hope that somewhere down the road this issue will turn out to have been denser than it currently appears to be.

The process of Capullo on layouts, Ottley on pencils and McFarlane on inks is an intriguing one, but for my personal tastes I feel like my favorite artist of the three, Ryan Ottley, gets a bit buried in the final results. While the layouts are dynamic and the storytelling sound, the mix of Ottley and McFarlane has produced inconsistent results. As a whole Ottley's work feels lacking without a strong line on top of it and McFarlane's inks seem to lack the finer details that I remember from his past work. It's possible that as they continue to work together the art on the book will improve, but for this first issue the pairing seems to have detracted from both artists' strengths rather than enhancing their weaknesses. I'm not all that crazy about the character design for Haunt. It's not terribly memorable and it is easy to dismiss as a Venom derivative with an over abundance of ectoplasmic jizz.

I also wasn't in love with the coloring on the book. The action sequences looked great, but the rest of the book felt a bit too de-saturated and the book looked a bit drab as a result. The lettering sound effects also felt a bit too photoshoppy and pasted in. I was shocked to see a Richard Starkings credit for the lettering.

Even though I'm scoring this issue low, I'm still curious enough that I'm not ruling out trying out the first trade. There's a ton of talent working on this book, eventually I have to believe that they can make something out of this even if I can't imagine what that may be.

Story: 6
Art: 5
Overall: 5.5

Review by House of J

Not all things in the '90s suck--all the crap made the good stuff stand out. Or made the mediocre stuff seem good, I'm not sure which. I wasn't buying comics for most of the '90s for a lot of other reasons than the quality issue. But having bought back large blocks of '90s comics, much of it is unreadable to me. And some of what's left just doesn't interest me. This book is a lot like some of those comics in the 2nd group--it's just not for me. I felt a déjà vu sneak upon me when reading this, as though I hadn't wanted to read it before now too--by that I mean to say it reminds me of another book that wasn't for me either, but sold a lot of comics, toys, and probably a movie I didn't see either.

I think I may have read a couple superhero books by Kirkman, but none of his popular indie books yet--there's a better chance I'll try one of those than buy future issues of Haunt. The art's been described as a mash-up by other folks--I'm not familiar with any of the artists here, except memories of MacFarlane's early Spidey work. At the time, I thought his compositions were dynamic and his lines were kinda sloppy but stylistically he really stood out then. Moreso than the artist-combo does with Haunt, especially with the rather dull color palette.


Review by Dragavon

This book has potential. With Kirkman and Ottley attached to the project, two names who were involved in the creation of one of the best new characters in superhero comics, is it any surprise? I read through the first issue expecting something different and I got it. I found Daniel Kilgore interesting and liked Kurt Kilgore. And if Kirkman brings the same skill that I know he has, it will turn out to be a very good book.

My major problem with the book was the art. Although, I think Ottley is decent and Capullo is tolerable, McFarlane's horrendous design made the costume an eyesore. I honestly think this book would have been better if McFarlane had not been involved in this.

Despite that I believe I will pick up the rest of the first arc. It has me intrigued to see what happens to the brothers Kilgore.

Writing 7.5/10
Art 6.5/10
Total 7/10

Review by SuperginraiX

Generic. Nineties. Story.

This is a whole lot of clichés mixed together in a blender and thrown down for your... um... enjoyment. If this had come out maybe fifteen years ago? I might be interested. Probably not, mind you, because I was never that into Spawn and this reads a lot like the very little of Spawn I've actually read.

Maybe that's more due to the art than the story. It's hard to say. It still has that definite "Spawn" feel to the storytelling but I'd say it's also attached itself all over the art. I'll give credit where it's deserved. The art isn't bad. I actually like it. Kudos.

And what can be said about a horribly derivative costume that hasn't been said already? Nothing? Should I mention that it looks like black suit Spidey's been reading too much porn and has terrible aim again? No? OK, then I'll just be silent on the issue.

Anyway, generic story elements over nice art isn't gonna get me to come back for issue two.

Haunt, you get a 3. I'll try to act surprised when the next writer comes up with the "preacher who sleeps with hookers" character.


That gives Haunt #1 a group score of 6.58.  Not exactly a love fest, but not quite a bashing either...

For further discussion about Haunt and to experience doombug's rabid defense of Deadpool, feel free to join us in this week's thread (http://www.theouthousers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=30087) found in the News Stand forum where you are also invited to post your own review.

GLX has the pick for October 14th and he has selected The Unwritten #6 from Vertigo/DC Comics.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to post your own review. 

The Unwritten #6

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Peter Gross

As the Tommy Taylor fanbase reels in the aftermath of the Villa Diodati slayings, Tom arrives at Donostia prison in Southern France and falls into the orbit of another story: The Song of Roland. Unfortunately for Tom, it's a story that ends with a massacre...

Vertigo | 32pg. | Color | $2.99 US | Mature Readers


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