The world is a weird place. And it’s weird even before you throw in the idea that we share our little blue marble with ghosts and sasquatches. Every once in a while our world's weirdness gets explained, If we’re lucky those explanations come from legitimate scientific studies and if we’re not they’re explained through reality TV. Personally I’ve always been of two minds about that kind of stuff. I don’t really believe in ghosts or aliens and don’t really understand the fascination with "hunting" or explaining their existence outside of entertainment, but on the other hand there’s sasquatch and he – er – well buy me a beer sometime and I’ll tell you about my thoughts on that.
Point is, and there is one, is that there will always be people trying to bring the “truth” to light. And that is what makes up the bulk of Hoax Hunters' premise, albeit with a pretty fun twist. Written by Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley with art by JM Ringuet Hoax Hunters follows the cast of a reality TV show of the same name as they track down freaky phenomena across the globe. Here’s the twist though: what they show the public as the end result of the investigations they conduct isn’t the truth. They find weirdness and instead of showing that weirdness to the world and reaping the rewards of ratings they sweep it under the rug and give perfectly solid scientific explanations to explain the boogey man away.
Collecting material originally syndicated as a back up of Image's Hack/Slash series Hoax Hunters #0 reads like a prologue chapter to the ongoing series that will come later this year and it follows the titular team as they travel to Moscow to hunt down a seemingly haunted astronaut, keep it from wrecking havoc and figure out just what it is and why it's in Russia. The story gives a good introduction to the book's three main characters and what they do, but what we see here doesn’t even really give us the full motivations of why our cast of characters operate the way they do. And that’s a good thing.
We learn just enough about the characters here so they become likable, but enough is also kept from us so that there’s room to maneuver with their characterizations in the future and they don’t tip their hand in regards to the master plot. And though this story might not have originally been constructed as a de-facto prologue for the ongoing series, although I’m sure there was a hope it would become one, it serves a purpose of showing readers what they will get if they stick with the book: International intrigue, compelling characters, and some truly creepy moments. That's a pretty solid package.
If there is a problem it’s that because the book is compiled from back up material that originally ran as a couple of pages each month, when it comes together it doesn’t mesh as a whole as well as you would like. As a result it feels like the art becomes a bit cramped and makes the visual storytelling aspects of Ringeut’s art feel rushed. However his style does succeed in giving the book a very unique atmosphere that works for a horror book. The thing is, criticizing Ringeut is a somewhat empty endeavor as he wont be the artist on the ongoing. That will fall to Axel Medellin, who has a bit more of a “traditional" style compared to Ringuet's. Whether that will work for a book like Hoax Hunters is yet to be seen but I’m sorry to see Ringeut go. His style is rough but it looks like it could really become something special over time and I’m somewhat disappointed we won't get to see him develop on a monthly basis. But at the very least this book gives us reason to look out for him in the future.
Overall, this was a fun read and it'ss understandable why Image is giving this book the green light to become an ongoing. Horror is always one a genre that seems to be underrepresented, but Hoax Hunters delivers on a variety of different levels and will definitely be a book to watch when Issue #1 hits shelves later this year.
TL;DR: A solid debut that despite having a few pacing problems that show in the art, nonetheless remains a fun read that delivers in a bunch of different ways.
Hoax Hunters is written by Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley with art by JM Ringuet. Issue #0 collects a backup story that originally appeared in Hack/Slash and serves as a prologue for what will be a new ongoing series for Image Comics. You can ask for it in your local comic book shop Wednesday (of course) March 21st. The hoax will most likely begin in early- to mid-summer.
A review copy of Hoax Hunters #0 was graciously provided to Spandexless by the writer.