Review - Haunted City #1

New York City has seen its fair share of people. People from all races, religions and cultures have passed through the city, bringing with them all their folklore and traditions. For the most part those traditions are nice, but not all parts of a culture's history is nice. Haunted City #1 is the first in an ongoing series that looks at all the negative traditions inhabiting New York City and their occurrence right in front of us on a daily basis.

Written by Chap Taylor and Peter Johnson and illustrated by Michael Ryan (colors by Kelsey Shannon and Beth Sotelo), Haunted City #1 gets down and dirty into the things that go bump in the night of the city that never sleeps.

Life isn't going quite so great for Detective Tom Whalen. Not only is he barely alive, he now has Internal Affairs breathing down his neck and a strange man named Peter Hopkins offering him the services of a Witchfinder General. On top of that, the city is faced with a recent increase in child disappearances.

Hopkins takes Whalen on the tried and true "he'll believe this crazy stuff if I show him routine," making a trip to see a rabbi about an item found at the scene of a dead child. It's the rabbi that gives Hopkins and Whalen the bad news as to who they're up against. It's fairly standard fare as far as these stories go. Whalen is currently evading both IA and an Albanian crime boss named Vic Cerberus he had the misfortune of being on the wrong end of a deal with, so it's likely he'll turn to the offered help of Hopkins sooner than later.

Haunted City #1 actually has a great premise. It's true that New York City definitely has its fair share of evil and malevolent beings invoked by any number of cultures. Taylor and Johnson have crafted a story that is very reminiscent of Hellboy, but will most likely be a tad bit darker in tone. That darkness is accentuated well by Ryan, Shannon and Sotelo. The colors are darker and muted with an abundance of shadows and blacks. It'll be interesting to see what Ryan does in terms of illustrations with the wide assortment of baddies the series can produce.

It's refreshing to see that it's not only Catholics that know about fighting the evil superstitions, as the the pair paid a visit to a rabbi regarding the "case." Hopkins seems to have a small team of others with unique talents, including Catherine Gray, a Christian warrior, BJ, presumably a techie and Haleh, a historian of sorts. The addition of Whelan will give Hopkins a well-rounded team reflective of multiple backgrounds (culturally and religiously) and give them an edge going up against the evils of the city.

For all of its innovation, Haunted City #1 may fall into a familiar trap. The clandestine organization that works to keep the world safe from evil is a litle worn out, but the series could be refreshing depending on what superstitions are invoked in each issue. It's an interesting read and the first evil isn't seen that often in literature and could be pretty awesome. Haunted City #1 should be in stores today, with interiors below.