Review: Image Comics’ Haunt #4

As a young lad growing up back in the glory days when reading comic books and horror movies made me an outcast to everyone outside of my family and my only 2 friends outside of that circle, I was caught up in McFarlane-Mania just like the rest. His work in “SPAWN” caused a taboo fascination in my adolescent mind for the satanic, grotesque, and often sultry images he depicted. I read the comics, I played the awful video games which by my own admission remain a guilty pleasure, and I watched the animated series on HBO whenever they decided to play it, staying up far beyond my bedtime. My loyalties knew no bounds. Of course, then I grew up and discovered true masters of their art such as Bendis, Moore, Gaiman, and later Robert Kirkman. So imagine my excitement when “HAUNT” hit shelves for the first time. “Haunt” bridges a definitive gap that in my mind was in dire need of filling. For all his accomplishments, for me the point of greatest weakness for Todd McFarlane is his writing. He has always stood to me as one of the coolest and most twisted minds of his generation, but as a story teller he always seemed to lack that extra push. Where he has always been strongest, in my opinion, is his work as an artist. As an illustrator McFarlane possesses one of the most unique and interesting styles out there. The trick is putting an equally talented writer behind him to fill in the bubbles. Enter scribe Robert Kirkman (“WALKING DEAD”, “MURDERER”) whose accomplishments as comic book writer continue to grow exponentially by the month to month issue he releases in any one of the various series he pens. And “Haunt” is one of those titles that is quickly putting him at the top of everyone’s pull and hold list. Together the two are near perfect together. But if ever there was a hiccup in the short life of the series it was this month.

In issue 4 of the chronicles of Haunt, our hero finds himself in a familiar situation: toe to toe with Cobra. This issue doesn’t particularly offer anything new or dynamic in regards to the series. Haunt continues down the road that has been set before him, saves woman in distress, fights baddy, ect ect. The main issue with this month’s installment is it’s a stopgap. All the pieces are in place, all the fireworks are primed and ready to go off, but at the end of the wick is a dull hiss. In fact, even the rematch between Cobra and Haunt is anticlimactic, ending with nothing more than one combatant running away with a swiss-cheesed face.

The money shot at the end of the issue is quite good, and definitely gets the reader ready to read the next issue that will act as the final curtain for the flagship arc of the series, but the problem is that that is the only truly good exchange in the whole issue. Besides that we are simply fumbling towards the conclusion, finding answers to questions we had already gotten answers to the issue before, and for all intents and purposes waiting.

The good news is that all the usual suspects that make this title so good are back. The crisp and cool art by Ottley, the stylistic cover from McFarlane, the interesting dialogue from Kirkman, they are all present. It’s too bad they didn’t have anything to do this issue. Oh well, there’s always next month.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Skulls