Sunday, 25 April 2010

Haunt (A Super-Ghost Story)

In 2006 Spawn creator Todd McFarlane and Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman agreed to collaborate on a new title during a question and answer session at the San Diego Comic-Con. The result, albeit a few years later, was Haunt, a super-hero ghost story in based around two brothers, Kurt and Daniel Kilgore who are far from the best of friends. The brothers are very different characters; Kurt is an accomplished and capable Special-Ops agent working for a shadowy government agency, Daniel a less than perfect Priest who is first seen arranging his next appointment with a naked prostitute.

Daniel’s self-loathing and questionable lifestyle are in stark contrast with his brother, who seems to enjoy his work and have a perfect life outside of the shadowy world of espionage; however, fate conspires to drag Daniel into his brother’s life when Kurt is killed whilst being tortured for information. Assuming he is seeing things, Daniel initially dismisses Kurt’s ghost, who appears to be haunting him, as a figment of his imagination only to discover that the apparition is real and that Kurt is trying to stop the people who killed him from attacking his wife.

We begin to discover that the reason Daniel hates Kurt so much is because of Kurt’s wife, who Daniel was once in love with, so he acquiesces to Kurt’s request to stay with her for protection. It is here, when under attack that Kurt’s ghost tries to push his brother out of harms way only to find that he instead fuses with Daniel to become a symbiotic being of great power, Haunt.

The story mechanism is very clever, only when the two brothers are fused as one can they use the power that has been be bestowed upon them, and their uncomfortable personal relationship makes it difficult for them to use the powers to their utmost effect as they don’t always work together well. However, as the story progresses, the brothers will need to find a way to come to an understanding in order to combat the organisation behind both Kurt’s death and the dangers his living loved ones are now in.

The comic is very-much adult themed and deals with issues such as betrayal, dependence, love and loss in an intelligent way. The character of Haunt will make some comic fans raise an eyebrow, as the black and white “suit” looks very similar to Marvel’s Venom (one of Spider-Man’s regular foes), who is also a symbiotic being. The powers Haunt appears to wield, the ability to extend his body into writhing slicing tentacles and as a method of quick manoeuvre, both look very similar to Venom’s powers too and Haunt also has the standard “super” strength. But that aside, readers will forgive the similarity of the character because of the strong storyline and the fact that throughout the fusion into Haunt, both Daniel and Kurt’s characters are clearly independent and talk and argue with each other, even during battle.

The artwork is very good with a classic comic style subtly mixed with a more serious and adult overtone. Pencilled by the excellent Ryan Ottley and inked by McFarlane himself, the entire franchise has an aura of professionalism to it that can only be achieved when such giants of the comic world as McFarlane, Kirkman and Ottley collaborate so seamlessly. There is surely a lot more to come from this exciting twist on the superhero genre. Haunt is published by Image comics and is an ongoing title.

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