The first issue introduced us to the world of Hoax Hunters, and introduced us to a mystery worth solving, before we cover it up. The second issue dug a little deeper, and told us just what kind of world we were entering, before leaving us alone with the monsters that lurk on its surface. In this third issue, with the background established, the story goes all out, exploding from the pages in a mix of blood, terror, mystery, and humor.
The third installment of Image’s horror comic opens with a bang (or rather, an entire magazine full of them), and ends in an ominous whimper bringing us one issue closer to a showdown in the swamps. But I get the feeling this will not be a final battle by any means. Authors Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley, with artist Axel Medellin, have alluded to what seems to be an overarching storyline, complete with another shadowy conspiracy. Our antagonist may have a small legion of followers and powers beyond those of our crew, but I get the feeling that he is only a smaller part of what is going to be a much larger picture.
Once again, there will be mild spoilers from here on out. If you haven’t started reading Hoax Hunters yet, you are missing one of the best horror comics currently running. You should also not read any further into this review.
After a vicious battle with the monster last seen at the end of issue two, we are left with a very confident antagonist, and a crew with an increasingly difficult series of events to explain to the dim-witted public. In an effort to figure out what element they’re missing, Ken Cadaver, who we learn was a NASA scientist who was unwittingly reanimated using the technology he developed while he was still alive, uses his psychic powers to dive into Jack Lawson’s mind. We are given a hazy glimpse into his past. We see his father, and we learn that while Lawson the senior may no longer be with them, it is not because he is dead. In addition, we are introduced to a mysterious stranger. A stranger who may have most of the answers . . . if only Jack could remember his face.
And things take a turn for the worst when an old friend from issue one is captured; his captors having the full intent of making him the guest of honor in their final ceremony.
This issue manages to fit so much into twenty-four pages. In fact, my favorite aspect has to be its ability to shift tone from action-packed, to humorous, to mysterious, back to humorous, and ending on mysterious again. In some cases, this could make the writing seem jumpy, but in this case, it works. We are reminded that despite all the danger, the show must go on! And the point of the show is to discredit witnesses and cover up all evidence of paranormal activity. After all, this is nothing more than an elaborate hoax. You don’t really think there’s monsters in the bayou, do you?
This results in some truly funny scenes, such as the moment when the crew interviews a local about the strange happenings in the swamps. It reminds me of all the stereotypical interviews of paranormal witnesses, who never sound remotely believable. Their stories are so far-fetched and absurd, and yet these shows normally take them so seriously. Not this time. When Regan breaks the fourth wall of her reality show to wink at the audience, we know she isn’t believing a word her poor eyewitness is saying. Ah, but the jokes on all of us. She’s not just interviewing him, she’s gathering intel.
Credit has to be given to artist Axel Medellin for capturing this bit of storytelling. Yes, we can sense the change in character in Regan and Jack as they switch to their on-air personalities, but it is Regan’s wink and Jack’s raised eyebrow that drives the humor home. “See my face?” they seem to say, “We’re in on this too. We know this guy is just as crazy as he sounds.”
Furthermore, I am a fan of dry humor. And that shining moment goes to none other than Ken Cadaver. You will know it when you see it. I laughed. Out loud.
Hoax Hunters #3 hits shelves on September 12th. In the mean time, check out these frames, and try to convince me it’s not a hoax. After all, I done seen it with my own eyes!