Haunt: Graphic Novel Review – 7GPP
The story of Haunt goes back to 2006, at a San Diego Comic-con where ‘Todd McFarlane’ (Creator of Spawn) called on ‘Robert Kirkman’ (Creator of ‘The Walking Dead’) who was seated in the audience. Mr Kirkman stood up and expressed that he was a fan, and wanted to know why it was that McFarlane didn’t work on comics anymore. McFarlane’s response was that he didn’t wish to be spread too thin, and that if you create your own Mickey Mouse (in reference to Spawn) that you don’t need to do the Donald Ducks and Goofys. It wasn’t until ‘Brian Haberlin’ (Co-Creator of ‘Witchblade’) informed Todd McFarlane who Kirkman was, that the Spawn creator asked Robert Kirkman if he would like to collaborate. Once this was accepted, the graphic novel crowd held its breath. It wasn’t until a year later that the world first heard about ‘Haunt’, at the same Comic-Con in 2007.
These two veritable behemoths of the graphic novel world teaming up was not only a huge surprise (for those who didn’t know) but a very welcome one. These things do take a long time to create, so it was a large wait for more news. This time it was February 2009 at the New York Comic-Con, where Kirkman provided an overview of the series: “The main basis of the story is that there are two brothers who have hated each other for a good long time and are now forced to interact because one of them has died and is haunting the other. It’s a big action extravaganza from there on out.”
I’ll be honest, when I heard the two who were heading it up, I glossed over what it was about. In my view, I didn’t care. It was two big hitters coming up to bat and I wanted in. I wanted to read it as soon as possible. It came out several months after the New York Comic-Con in October 2009, to distinctly mixed reviews. Some critics believed the two worked well together, that the story was good and the artwork solid. However on the flip side of the coin there were those who felt ‘Ryan Ottley’ was a much better artist than Haunt showed, the characters didn’t have much depth and it took itself too seriously.
Well first let’s come to the story itself. As Kirkman himself stated, it revolves around two brothers, one of which is called Daniel Kilgore who is working as a priest, defunct of life, and spending his off hours with a prostitute. His brother, Kurt Kilgore works/worked (he doesn’t spend much time alive) for ‘The Agency’ as a secret agent. The only contact these two have had for years is Kurt coming in to confess his sins (the people he’s killed and why) that is until Kurt is murdered.He then becomes a walking, talking ghost that only Daniel his brother can see (you can start to understand why taking yourself too seriously in this scenario really wouldn’t work too well). When these two brothers combine to make one force called ‘Haunt’, it reminds me a lot of a Spawn/Spiderman hybrid – which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but I think because it was these two creating it the expectation was that high that it had to be perfect. (An example of this happened much later than ‘Haunt’ in the fabled ‘Return of the King’ or as more people will know him ‘Duke Nukem’, because that game had been pushed back and back and back some more, until it had to be perfect because there was just so much build-up.)
I’m not saying ‘Haunt’ is bad, I’m not. I actually enjoyed reading the first one and I can’t wait to read to the second – but news just doesn’t look good for the longevity of this graphic novel. The penciller and inker, ‘Greg Capullo’ (Spawn) is jumping ships, or rather has jumped ship to DC to become the artist on DC’s Batman working alongside ‘Scott Snyder’ (American Vampire/Batman). Not only this, but Robert Kirkman himself is leaving/has left. Issue #18 will be the co-creators’ last issue together before an all new creative team joins Todd McFarlane. I hope it will work for him, but without Kirkman, could this just turn into a Spawn parody?