This guy Spaw- er, I mean, Haunt, may be the ickiest superhero this side of Arm-Fall-Off-Boy. Urban fanboy legend suggests that, once upon a time, Todd McFarlane was guest speaking at this or that convention when Robert Kirkman, who was in the audience, engaged him in Q&A, and that McFarlane asked Kirkman to collaborate with him on a project. This is, of course, after someone pointed out to Todd that that particular audience member was comic book writer Robert Kirkman.(I don't think I'm too impressed with Todd McFarlane). Anyway, the result is HAUNT, perhaps Kirkman's least inspired effort. The same could be said regarding Ryan Ottley's artistic contribution here. Maybe they feel the same way as I do about McFarlane.
Because Catholic priests simply don't garner enough awful press, one of the two central characters is Daniel Kilgore, an unsavory priest who steals money from his church to pay for the hooker he visits regularly. That's nice... Daniel has a brother, Kurt, and they've been estranged for some time now, and we learn the why of it later. Kurt is a secret agent and a stone cold killer and I find him more likable than the priest, and, oh yes, Kurt cheats on his wife. When Kurt is murdered during a mission, his spirit gets tangled up with Daniel's body, and Daniel suddenly can see and speak with Kurt's ghost. And, when endangered, Daniel and Kurt can somehow form the gross goo-armored entity called Haunt (although, come to think of it, I don't recall any of the characters calling him "Haunt"). Haunt excretes a gooey substance which enables him to stick to walls. The same substance can harden into vicious cutting, hacking, piercing tools. Haunt is not a pretty picture.
But he's certainly effective... and needed. The spy organization Kurt used to work for comes sniffing around after Daniel (or, wait, actually Daniel drops in for a visit first). Murderous enemy agents also come calling, and they're seeking a scientist's precious notebook. Daniel and Kurt don't like each other, and it's a task having to co-exist in the same space. When Haunt is summoned, Kurt is the one doing most of the piloting. Except that Daniel's jangled nerves and inexperience with the cloak & dagger stuff and sheer "What the f*** is going on?" demeanor tend to undermine Kurt's secret agent skills. Kurt keeps telling his corporeal bro to relax and not fight him. But what would you do in Daniel's place? Too, it becomes clear that, in the guise of Haunt, Kurt's ghost draws on Daniel's energy reserves.
HAUNT Vol. 1 collects the first 5 issues, and this particular run is long enough for Kirkman to establish, in broad strokes, the characters and the conflict. So the story is easy to get with, the motivations are easy to grasp. Kirkman provides the words. Greg Capullo (layouts), Ryan Ottley (pencils), and Todd McFarlane (inks) gang-draw the thing, and if the too-many-cooks scenario doesn't raise a red flag... I am a big fan of Ryan Ottley's art, but Ottley going over Capullo's layouts and then being inked by McFarlane, well, what happens is that Ottley's clean, distinctive style develops this unflattering murkiness. I don't like.
HAUNT is very violent, and that's fine. There's a relentlessly grim tone in the storytelling and a joylessness, and that would've been okay, I guess, but there's also this derivative 1990s Image Comics vibe I'm getting, and that puts me off. The characters come off as lifeless and not very likable. They make me want to scrub my hands over the sink really vigorously. What disappoints me most is that it feels like Robert Kirkman is just going thru the motions, earning a paycheck, not giving a what.
The best thing I may have liked about this series is that the finicky mobster boss is so concerned about his hospitalized henchman's dietary habits. See how I'm reaching?