It’s rare that I read comics from independent publishers, but last week I saw an awesome looking trade paperback on a comic store shelf. The cover instantly caught my eye and, moments later, I’d purchased Haunt: Volume 1. Produced by Image Comics, Haunt tells the story of two brothers, Kurt and Daniel Kilgore, and the adventure that follows them as they become the titular superhero. How did this Indy hero stack up compared to my usual fare?
When Haunt begins, we’re introduced to Daniel, a Catholic priest living a life of silent sin who secretly curses his monotonous existence. He is visited weekly by his brother, Kurt, who comes to confess his sins. Kurt, as it turns out, is an agent of a covert ops organization and takes the lead on infiltration and assassination missions. These confession sessions are the only interaction the brothers have, as the two of them had a falling out years ago when Kurt stole Daniel’s then girlfriend, Amanda, and married her. We soon learn, however, that Kurt was killed in action and it is his ghost that follows Daniel, the only person who can see and speak to him. Fearing Amanda’s safety after a botched mission, Kurt begs Daniel to look after his widow, an offer the latter begrudgingly accepts. Ultimately, Amanda is attacked leading Kurt to possess Daniel’s body, fusing the two brothers into the mysterious Haunt. It is up to them both to control this new persona to protect those they love…and defeat those who threaten the peace in their lives.
Haunt Volume 1’s plot is stellar, penned by Robert Kirkman. From the get-go we’re given very detailed looks into the lives of all the characters, and it’s not long before the reader is invested in their struggles and goals. This volume blends the right amount of dialogue and action, balancing the two to make the story exciting but without turning it into a simple gore-fest. The characters are instantly likable, and their motivations seem real. One problem with the writing, however, is that a huge cast of side characters is introduced rather hastily, but I assume later issues explore their importance more and thus in the long run this may not really be an issue.
The art in this series is really great, replete with scenes of gut-wrenching emotion and exciting action. Greg Capullo, Ryan Ottley, and Todd McFarlane all bring their unique talents to the table to evoke scenes that one can’t help but stare at and study. Haunt’s design is especially awesome, reminiscent of Spawn but with his own flare. The stark black and white contrast makes him appear otherworldly and allows him to stand out, especially when he’s flying through explosions and blood. I’m especially fond of how the artists convey so much emotion in the characters’ facial expressions, fitting perfectly with the exemplary dialogue. I think some people may be put off by some of the more violent scenes, but if you can get past that the art is superb.
As a superhero, Haunt is not necessarily anything new in terms of powers: he’s got speed, strength, invulnerability, and even the ability to excrete this substance that he can use to hold onto things or swing (a la Spiderman) or shoot through enemies to kill them (a la Carnage). His originality comes in how he is manifested: the idea of a ghost bonding to a human to bring out dark power is pretty creative in my opinion and, while I’ve seen people share bodies before as superheroes, none have been as interesting as Daniel and Kurt. The fun comes from the fact that Daniel resents Kurt and Kurt has difficulty controlling Haunt because of Daniel’s resistance. Ultimately, however, they are strongest when working together. I’ve got a feeling there’s probably more to Haunt than just these facts, but even after Volume 1 I’m pretty hooked.
Haunt Volume 1 is a great read and is definitely worth picking up for most comic fans. The story is somewhat violent and has a few adult elements which may turn some people off, but if those things don’t bother you or you can look past them I think you’ll find something truly exceptional.
Brett Simon is a twenty-two year old comic enthusiast. He feels like he and his own brother would run into similar problems as Kurt and Daniel if fused together as a superhero.
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