Thursday, November 5, 2009


Look out, comic book world. It’s the amazing debut of the first new creation from comic book superstar Todd McFarlane since SPAWN.

SPAWN was Al Simmons, a super bad-ass, top-secret government killer who died, but came back to life as a supernatural hero with a Venom-like living costume (which McFarlane also helped create) and had to help protect his former wife, who in an ironic twist, was now married to his former best friend!

Well, forget everything you knew up to now! Here’s HAUNT. As David (I think it was David) Kilgore, he was a super bad-ass, top-secret government killer who died, but came back to life as a supernatural hero with a weird, gooey, Venom-like costume – and has to protect his former wife, who in an ironic twist, has some kind of history with his own brother! …who is the person Kilgore is possessing and turning into HAUNT!

Okay, maybe that sarcasm was a bit stronger than necessary. But really, McFarlane hasn’t been doing any actual comic creating in over a decade and this is the new idea he’s come up with in that time? Look, back in the days of Todd McFarlane drawing Spider-Man, I thought he was THE awesomest artist EVER. But even then, I could tell his writing was a little dodgy. I could even tell his art was a little dodgy, but it was always filled with ink-loads of “awesome” detail. So it seems like a winning idea to bring in a really good writer write his book for him and have a solid artist do the pencils (Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley respectively, both of the INVINCIBLE book I raved about in my last post) - and let other long-time Spawn artist Greg Capullo do the page layouts, and McFarlane adds his inks and the final result should have that McFarlane feel but with real quality underneath. But this has way too little Kirkman-Ottley and way, way too much McFarlane-Capullo – whose contributions seem completely phoned in. I mean, halfway through issue 2 it looks like they’re just using Ottley’s pencils, darkened by the colorist, without any inking at all! In case you doubted my assertion that McFarlane’s contribution here is half-assed.

A bit more on what’s in this comic. First of all, no characters display any depth or personality. Living Brother Kilgore is a priest who’s gone bad! He visits prostitutes and has stubble and smokes cigarettes! (sorry, those cannot be considered personality traits) Dead Brother Kilgore is a merciless killer, who’s maybe kinda good! At least, he kills a guy that he considers bad! (that also does not qualify as a personality) Have you noticed that other decent superhero origin stories usually involve some kind of emotional element? Batman’s parents are killed and he couldn’t do anything to save them, so he is filled with righteous vengeance. Spider-Man’s parent is killed and he could have done something to save him, so he is wracked with guilt. Haunt is killed over some vague secret document thing and now he kills bad guys because he feels like he probably ought to help his wife. Does he love her? No evidence to suggest that here.

So Dead Brother Kilgore possesses Living Brother Kilgore and makes him barf up some gooey ectoplasm-costume which covers everything but his chin. Even his upper teeth and lip are covered by the barf-costume, which means that when he talks it must sound like the mean sister with orthodontia from South Park. It looks really dumb. Then he slaughters a bunch of bad killer spies (different from our “hero” … how?) in the messiest manner he can – even though he could have just strangled them - AND in issue 2 he has to call in a guy to clean up the mess. (compare this ho-hum scene to the downright gripping use of gory violence in INVINCIBLE)

I still sort of hope that this book could turn out okay, but I really just wish Kirkman and Ottley had made up their own new thing and not bothered to collaborate with McFarlane here. I mean, look at the 2 covers above. The first is the cover to issue 1, drawn by McFarlane. The second is Ottley’s alternate cover. Which would you send to press? At least in Ottley’s cover you can see that Haunt has a symbol on his outfit, not just a mess of McFarlane-squiggles, and you can sort of figure out what’s going on with his silly barf-mask, and his living goo-power looks like it at least has some form to it, and not like he’s just jumping through a big splash of milk like he’s Dark Count Chocula in an X-treme cereal commercial. (I will leave it to others to speculate on what else that substance might be)

I can’t recommend this, but I guess I’m sticking around for another issue or 2. If it improves, I’ll let you know.

UPDATE: It just occurred to me that since this blog is run by noisy music people, I should put a music analogy into my reviews. This comic book is like if you heard that Eye from the Boredoms was forming a new band with both Brians from Lightning Bolt, then you listened to their album and it sounded like "Chinese Democracy."

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