This week Image Comic’s Haunt issue #14, written by: Robert Kirkman, with art by: Greg Capullo, and additional inking by: Todd McFarlane has arrived. Will this finally be the issue that Haunt throws down with The Apparition? All shall be revealed in time.
Issue #14 picks up with Daniel Kilgore on an Agency mission behind Arc Light enemy lines. As the untested new guy, Daniel is really counting on his dead brother Kurt’s spirit to merge with him to form Haunt and keep him out of harm’s way on this mission. The trouble is that Kurt has disappeared and been incommunicado since being snatched by the Apparition, an otherworldly form that has been stalking him and seems determined to remove Kurt’s spirit from the Earthly realm. Unaware of what is going on with Kurt, Daniel and the Agency team have unwittingly walked into an Arc Light ambush and a gun battle ensues. The team looks to Daniel to unleash Haunt, but with Kurt’s spirit gone, that is not going to happen.
Kurt finally appears and quickly merges with Daniel to form Haunt, but the chaotic gunfight is the least of their concerns. The ambush becomes a secondary problem as the Apparition shows up and begins fighting Haunt in an effort to capture Kurt. Finally Haunt and the Apparition are to engage in battle for the first time. Big, red, silent, and powerful; fighting the supernatural powers of the Apparition is uncharted territory for Daniel and Kurt. When all seems lost, the fight takes mysterious turn that I won’t spoil for you here. It seems the Apparition only wants Kurt’s spirit, and when that spirit is merged with Daniel, this complicates matters. Now Daniel must face a disgruntled and confused Agency team that has seen none of what really just transpired and is displeased (to put it mildly) with his lack of help during the gunfight. The mission continues, with the Daniel and Kurt’s supernatural powers having no further difficulties or surprise visits from the Apparition.
After returning to Agency H.Q. stateside, Daniel begins searching for a test-subject named Alegria who seems to have knowledge of the supernatural phenomena that is taking place with himself and Kurt. Finding her may mean finding answers and unraveling the Haunt mystery. After searching numerous shelters, soup kitchens, and missions, Daniel locates her. Returning to his apartment, he and Kurt’s spirit are about to start questioning Alegria, when who should appear? The Apparition is back, and ready for round 2 at the cliffhanger end of this issue!
In the “Post Mortem” letters pages, Todd fields questions from Facebook.com/likeToddMcFarlane . He goes on to discuss laying a good foundation for the fairly young Haunt series, and with Robert Kirkman, taking time to develop good characters that people will actually care about. Todd says “I take heed [sic] in giving the entire origin too quickly. It’s exactly why I don’t enjoy comic book movies – because they give it all to you in the first 25 minutes of the film, and the rest is just a slugfest.” He also wishes to keep the story in the Earthly realm for now. It is refreshing to start seeing some of the reprecussions of Kurt’s spirit not passing over to the other side, and tantalizing that even more key character information is forthcoming. A big, villianous rival also is a welcome addition and adds a nice degree of focus and conflict to the plot. As always, Greg Capullo’s illustrations are distinct and amazing. This issue has some very eye-popping splash panels and spreads. One sticking point about the art is that Kurt’s spirit looks like all of the other living characters. Having bought and enjoyed every issue since #1, I am used to this. A new reader might be confused and not realize that Kurt is, in fact, a ghost that cannot be seen by the human characters. It would be nice if Kurt could be coloured transparently, or perhaps some type of blur or lighting effect employed to make it visually clear that he is of the spirit realm. This has been discussed in previous “Post Mortem” discussions, but has yet to make it into the comic. Haunt continues to be a good read, and I am optimistic about this approach to strong character development and creating a title with longevity. I know I will be eagerly waiting for the next issue.