Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hoax Hunters Book 1: Murder, Death, and the Devil

Written by Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley
Art by JM Ringuet, Axel Medellin, and Emilio Laiso

            I don’t quite know what the appeal of shows like Ghost Hunters or Searching for Bigfoot or whatever is.  Clearly if there was anything interesting, it would be shown on something other than a SyFy show.  Or, as Hoax Hunters’ premise goes, maybe not.
            The Hoax Hunters are Jack, Regan, and Ken, who set out to disprove various urban legends and videos that seem to be showing the supernatural.  At least that’s what they are on the surface.  In reality, they’re hired by the government to investigate these events and make sure that the public believes nothing happened.  In this first arc, the team investigates a Louisiana swamp where mass groups of animals are turning up dead, and the answer has to do with the disappearance of Jack’s father.  The arc’s four issues are bookended by standalone issues, with issue 0 about an astronaut suit filled with crows, and #5 having to do with a past case of Jack’s father.
            The concept of the book is the real hook here.  The idea that things like Bigfoot and the Jersey Devil being real is always interesting, and having a group cover it up and then showing it as “reality TV” is great.  I also like what we really get to know about the group.  At one point we find out that Regan, who has psychic powers, was originally shown on a daytime talk show before joining the group.  It’s a bit of bald exposition, but it’s also a very interesting moment that makes me want to know more about the characters’ pasts.  It’s the world that really has me hooked here, and it’s likely what’ll keep me reading, since I found this first arc…not weak, necessarily.  It’s not a weak arc.  In fact, it’s a very strong arc that propels the overall story of the book into overdrive.  And that’s part of my problem.  I tend to like it when the first arc of a comic is just getting us into the world and bringing us in, and then later things can really start going.  I guess it’s a case of “too much too fast” for me.  Which is likely why I appreciate the standalone issues more since they help build the world.  The final issue in particular really gives us an idea of what the creatures act like in the world.
            The art is fine throughout.  My one problem is that issue 0 has some very stylized art from Ringuet, only to go into Medellin’s more realistic art.  There was a moment of having to flip back and realize that Ken and Regan were still the same characters, because the two artists draw them differently enough.  The creature art definitely excels throughout.  Whether it’s a classic monster or something new, it’s that combination of terrifying and unique.
            The collection has a good amount of special features.  The cover gallery is unnecessary.  I’ve complained about cover galleries before, and considering how cool some of these covers are, I really wish they were next to the issues.  There’s also some apparently promotional images for the series, which are nice.  A single sketchbook page for the creation of Murder, the crow-astronaut, is a nice insight into character development, since he was apparently considered for several other series before being used in this one.  The real star here, though, is a short story about the Mothman, done in the style of a kids comic, which I loved.  It doesn’t feature the Hunters at all, but it does flesh out the world and what the creatures are like, which is fine with me.
            If future arcs of Hoax Hunters focus a little more on the world before getting back into the big plot, I think it could be a series worth watching.  This is still a good comic, but it’s just that tiny step away from being a great comic. 

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