Possible the greatest fear in the entertainment industry, for both artists and fans alike, is the sophomore slump. A band releases that first moving album. A director creates their first visual masterpiece. And a comic brings paint and ink to life from inside that plastic-protected first edition. And then comes the second, and it is nowhere near as impressive as the first. And then, you can only wait in desperation for the third one, hoping to recapture that same magic.
I am pleased to report that this is not the case with Hoax Hunters #2.
Once again, Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley deliver a fast-paced horror action piece helped along by the detailed, colorfully compelling art of Axel Medellin. And fortunately, the mystery pace described in our review of Hoax Hunters #1 remains present. For every question answered, two or three more rise up to take its place, including yet another magnificent twist ending even more shocking and exciting than in issue #1. Are there still unanswered questions? Most certainly. But, if you’re like me, you love a good mystery, and nothing is more disappointing than a mystery giving you the bloody answer in the first ten minutes.
This is also the issue that confirms the direction in which the series will be going. There are two kinds of what I will call “hunt the things that go bump in the night” stories. First, you have something akin to The X-Files. The truth is certainly out there (sometimes, way out there), but overall the stories are grounded, almost dry. This isn’t a bad thing, it simply makes the story feel like a police procedural instead of some kind of magical quest to save the world. Second, you have those which are more fantastical, like Hellboy; alternate worlds that may or may not exist beneath our own ignorant noses. These worlds are full of powers at play that our small, fragile minds can not possibly comprehend. In case you haven’t guessed, Hoax Hunters is the latter. Morcei and Seeley are crafting this world, Medellin is bringing it to life, and they will continue to throw massive, chaotic, destructive surprises our way. And what a fun trip it will be watching Jack, Regan, Ken, and Murder try to cover it all up.
Good luck, crew, cause you’re gonna need it.
Further review of this issue is going to require revealing some spoilers from issue #1. If you have not read issue #1, stop reading my compelling words of wisdom (for now), and go out and buy it first. Bottom line, Hoax Hunters #2 avoids the sophomore slump and keeps me wanting more. If you’ve read issue #1, and preferably issue #0, then pick this one up on August 8th from your local comic shop.
Warning: Issue #1 spoilers from here on out.
Picking up from Hoax Hunters #1, Regan and Jack return to their hotel to regroup with Ken and Murder. This time, we learn a bit about Jack and his history with the mass animal deaths that were the focus of issue #1. He already knows who is behind all of this, but we, the readers, are still not sure why or even how this is even being accomplished. The introduction alludes to a man with an unusual and mysterious agenda, as well as a disturbing influence.
Upon some scientific investigation of deceased cattle, they decide that their best course of action is to take a visit to the carnival alluded to in issue #1. Let me just say something right here. Even for a group who study the paranormal for a living, the fact that they still undergo basic scientific method to learn more about their situation is enlightening and a welcome relief, and not just from a logically minded person such as myself, but from a story perspective as well. Psychic and paranormal powers aside, this is a group that recognizes that science is the end all, be all to investigative inquiry. This implies that these characters may be super-powered, but they’re not supermen (and women). This has the dual function of making these characters relatable and showing us that there will be challenge in these character’s lives and actions. They’re not going to be able to simply snap their fingers and fix every paranormal problem they encounter. This creates the tension necessary for the finale of the issue, when even the powers that they do possess may not be enough to vanquish the (figurative and literal) monsters that have been unleashed in the humid, murky bayous.
Three cheers for science! And for excellent story-telling with awesome characters! And, what the hell, for comics in general!
The end of a comic should leave me wanting more. Not in a “wow, that was disappointing, I hope it gets better” way, but in a “what in the name of mighty Cthulhu just happened? I have to find out!” way. Hoax Hunters #2 accomplishes this, and, once again, you will know it when it happens. The horror landscape can be a barren wasteland. Be sure to dive into this dark, refreshing oasis. But don’t be surprised when this water monster grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go. And don’t get too offended when the Hoax Hunters rule your mysterious death as just a drowning.