Writers: Ralph Tedesco & Joe Brusha
Artwork: Julius Abrera
Colors: Jorge Cortes
Letters: Taylor Esposito
What They Say:
Ghosts and spirits have been with us since man first started walking the earth. What are they and what do they want? Why do some mean us harm? One team of paranormal investigators sets out to answer those questions, hunting the vengeful spirits that cross over into our world and facing the most terrifying hauntings man has ever known.
Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
Dr. Michael Chase is a university lecturer who was looking for a backer to further his paranormal research. Everything was not going well until a mysterious benefactor approved his funds and also gave him the necessary permits for any investigations. And the first case to explore is an unexplained death at Mercy Hospital, but first he would need to gather his team: Ellen Walty, a former student and psychic medium, Vera, also one of his pupils and computer expert, Curtis, Dr. Chase’s nephew and resident skeptic and finally Jerome Ferguson, a long time friend and ex-police detective. Now that they had introduced themselves, the group would need to determine how a man was killed in a locked room – seemingly drowned and scalded.
Once they arrive in Buffalo, the attending physician Dr. Carver shows them to the scene of the crime, however, she is less than forthcoming with any information and more than evasive in her answers, claiming that it was all a terrible accident. Immediately Ferg assumes that she isn’t telling the whole truth, but the team soon separates to grab some dinner. However, Ellen stays behind to get a reading of the room and is frustrated by her inability to sense anything from such a violent crime. Michael tries to comfort her, consoling that she hasn’t used her powers in such a long time and that she might be out of practice. But once everyone returns, they are promptly informed that someone else has been murdered and just like last time, there are no clues as to the culprit. Two deaths without any visible signs as to who or what caused them and both seemingly murdered by asphyxiation. There appears to be something more happening behind the scenes and Ellen does not like this uneasy feeling. Can they find the fugitive before anyone else dies, or is it beyond their reach?
When I first heard about this series, I immediately thought about all those paranormal television programs which show the crew skulking through a haunted location, and of course, to make it all the more creepy, they need to film using night vision lenses. While I am willing to give this new series the benefit of the doubt, it is not encouraging that one of the characters, Curtis, begins the issue by scoffing at his uncle’s work in asking if they should call themselves the Ghostbusters, and to reinforce his pessimistic viewpoint, he later states that the crime scene feels like a set from Ghost Hunters. Not sure if writers Ralph Tedesco and Joe Brusha are trying to poke fun at the topic or are they trying to sabotage their own title? Of course we as readers cannot but help to compare this book to another of Zenescope’s series – Tales of Terror, but in this case, instead of standing back and watching as the fun unfolds, the cast involves themselves by trying to intervene within the supernatural phenomenon. Although I may not like the aforementioned reality spectacles, the premise of Spirit Hunters seems intriguing by introducing the character Ellen Walty, who appears to be sensitive to the otherworldly presence. Hopefully, her abilities will allow a new venue to be opened through this type of adventure, allowing her to mediate with the visitors from the other side instead of using her as a spiritual Geiger counter.
But of course what really makes this series a visual experience is the artistic achievement of Julius Abrera with the collaboration of Jorge Cortes. Abrera opens the issue with a story based on reality, a tired doctor at the end of a twenty-hour shift – you can actually feel his anxiety etched into his face and the dark shadows which surround him only heighten the intrigue. But once the phantasm begins to manifest, it is Cortes’ ghoulish manipulation of ethereal colors that only solidifies the terror. It is the synergy of these two elements – illustrations rooted in amazing details and the melancholic tones of a stolid life based on science which anchors the first half of the story. However, once the investigation broadens, while we are still connected to the melodrama of the real world via those hardened characters who don’t want to believe, once that forbidden portal opens, it is only then are we bathed in the vividly grotesque palette of something which should never exist. That single splash page of a corpse’s bleached and mummified face framed in sickly sea green hair makes this issue … you can almost hear the unearthly scream of the tortured creature wanting to break free. If the fright fest from this premiere issue is what the rest of the series will be like, then prepare for will be one wild ride.
Spirit Hunters seems to be an interesting series based on the clichéd theme of finding things that go bump in the night, but if they are going to make fun of themselves while they do it, we might be in for a bumpy start. So many other companies have tried to make the premise interesting, but in the end, they usually fall flat on their faces. Let us just hope that the twist of having a medium will open a new door to the realization that the truth is out there.
Rating: T (Teen)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: November 9th, 2016