Review - Haunted #1

"Thirteen years since the sky ripped open. Since the sun and blue sky went away. Since they came and everything changed."

There are scary things in the world, both living and dead. The living things have a corporeal form and can seemingly be dealt with more effortlessly; it's the ethereal we have to worry about. When the ethereal rise up and invade our world, things are going to get really awful really quick, as they do in Haunted #1 from Red 5 Comics. The issue is written by Scott Chitwood, illustrated by Danny Luckert, colored by Ivan Plascencia and lettered by Troy Peteri.

Creatures once thought to be mythological terrorized mankind and society collapsed. Thirteen years later, Sarah McCallister manages to survive by being tough, smart and looking out only for herself. But when a chance to set the world back to normal arises, she finds herself in the compromising position of putting her faith in strangers for the first time. Trusting strangers is almost as scary as some of the things going bump in the night all around Sarah, especially considering those things are pretty fierce demons for the most part.

The best way to describe Haunted is to imagine if the Ghostbusters failed to stop Gozer the Gozerian from taking over the world. That's the world Chitwood creates in Haunted; a world where all manner of demon and ghost roam the world, free to possess at their leisure and cause general mayhem. The characters in the first issue represent the human hope and they've actually got something of a chance, thanks to the no-nonsense Sarah. She's as feisty as she is intelligent and acts as a pretty sound protagonist to follow. There's clearly something bigger at play on the part of the demons, all of whom are hellbent (get it?) on ridding the world of all humans and claiming it completely for their own.

Luckert's art is very creative. There's a healthy variety of different demons on display and the characters are illustrated with great contrasting details. Some of the panels bleed together a bit, where the characters are seemingly lost in the background setting they're inhabiting. Luckert does a great job subtly infusing the book with moments of sheer terror (primarily through the demon designs), such as instances where the reader sees only eyes in the background or a demon charging. Overall, Plascencia relied on a relatively dark color palette which thrives on dark blues and reds, both of which really reinforce the fact that things are not well in Haunted.

Haunted #1 is the first in a four-part series and it's off to a promising start. Sarah is clearly identified as the main character, yet her supporting cast will be equally as important. There's the potential for her to make a lot of difficult decisions considering she now has a running crew; her previous solitude stripped her of having to make tough moral choices (her interaction with a grandmother proves that). The series has four issues to get everything wrapped up, but what exactly will be wrapped up is still a little fuzzy after the end of the first issue. Whether or not Sarah and the others can actually stop the demon invasion remains to be seen. One thing is sure though: they likely won't have to cross the streams.

As Red 5 is an independent publisher, the best way to ensure your copy of Haunted this spring is to pre-order it by the end of February from your comic shop using order code FEB141420. Haunted #1 of the four-issue series is set for release on April 30, 2014.