To avoid sounding like a broken record, because I’m pretty sure that by now you all know that Kirkman and McFarlane’s “HAUNT” is fantastic, I’m going to avoid the whole ‘if you’re not reading this, then you’re missing out’ speel that people will usually feed you, and just jump into the review. No need for thanks. It’s all in a days work my fair readers, all in a days work.
When we last left off in “HAUNT” issue 4, our half-dead brothers Daniel and Kurt had just beaten the living hell out of Cobra, and in effect saving Kurt’s widow from being the next casualty in the ongoing war between The Agency and all those who covet the notebook. Meanwhile the mysterious (and sexy) Mirage revealed that she had the notebook and was willing to Price Is Right it to a certain white haired hulk before she decided to take her chances with Mobster Ebay. Ya follow?
So our story picks up here. Cobra is in the hospital, and he is obviously not going to be leaving anytime soon. His boss on the other hand will be making the pick-up from Mirage ‘personally’ (of course we all know a Mobster’s idea of personal means that they will have an entourage bigger than Jay-Z at The Grammys, and with twice the firepower) along with an entire troupe of Agency agents who have been tipped off as to when and where the exchange is to be made. So you can probably gather that the brothers Haunt won’t be to far behind.
In my review of issue #4 I said that the pawns were all in place for a huge meltdown within the series, and I wasn’t lying. By page 4 all hell has broken loose and the heads are quite literally rolling. It’s important to overstate the prevalence of Ryan Ottley’s amazing contributions to this series as this will, in effect, be his last issue. The pencils are beautifully done, depicting to the readers a firefight that even The Boondock Saints would envy. I will go as far as to say that this is his strongest issue yet, and it is sad to see him depart the dream-team at Image, but an understandable departure.
As the body count rises we begin to learn the truth behind the sorted lives of all the major players. The mole within The Agency is finally reviewed to be Morgan, who uses her last moment of ambiguity to blow Director Stantz’s brains out and get away with the notebook in hand, leaving no trace of her comings and goings behind, and as an after effect allowing Tosh to move into the now vacant seat. It is also revealed that Kurt and Mirage were lovers, causing yet another rift between the two siblings. What ensues between the two is a dialogue that is easily the most telling of any that we have witnessed so far, and the high point of the issue. Kirkman is allowed to do what he does best, and that is to write real human emotion and situations. The disconnect between Kurt and his wife Amanda is outlined very believably, as Kurt tells his brother that he began to view her life as something infinitely more miniscule than his own. That Mirage offered him what she never could, and that they had planned to run away together on stolen cash. Of course Kurt dying threw a wrench in those plans, and now Mirage is simply trying to pick up the pieces and get out while she still can without meeting a similar fate.
Obviously this is a heavy issue to read. There is a lot of character development crammed into the 32 pages Kirkman was given, but as always he seems to pull it off well. And unlike an episode of “LOST” we aren’t given 1 answer for every 10 frigging questions posed. The loose ends left in this issue make for some very interesting possibilities in the future, and the proposition Director Tosh serves to Daniel is one that promises to change the series forever.
All in all “HAUNT” issue #5 is all readers could have expected from the final issue of this arc. The dream-team at Image has done something these past 5 months that not many can accomplish within a years worth of story. They have introduced us to an entire world of characters with tangled, dark lives that are inherently human while at the same time existing in a world of macabre fiction. Whatever the future holds for Kurt and Daniel it is hard to imagine it not being a bright one.
4 Out Of 5 Skulls