Zenescope’s newest debut, Spirit Hunters #1 merges ghost hunting with a detective slant. Is it good?
Spirit Hunters #1 (Zenescope Entertainment)
The premise of Spirit Hunters is intriguing enough: part Ghostbusters, part forensics work, but the debut issue falls flat. Much of this stems from the story by Ralph Tedesco and Joe Brusha. The script drops the reader directly into the world, but that world never reveals a unique layer. The script introduces a cast full of characters, but the characters never move beyond basic archetypes. Here is the young skeptic, here is the former skeptic. Here’s the leader, here’s the slightly flirtatious one. Here’s the special.
It’s understandable that Tedesco and Brusha want to take this premise in a different direction; after all, a comedy about ghost hunters would be caught in a no-win situation. However Spirit Hunters #1 is far too clinical in its proceedings to really capture readers. There’s nothing to grasp onto, as even the detective work feels as if it’s going through the motions, and the comic never quite generates a sense of atmosphere or mood.
Part of the problem Spirit Hunters #1 has with creating tone comes from the artwork. Artist Julius Abrera and colorist Jorge Cortes use a number of panels that place characters against a white background. While there’s certainly something to be said for the use of negative space, the frequency with which it is used (especially early in the issue) makes it hard to get any sort of mood from the book.
The largely expository script also limits Abrera’s artwork. The extensive dialogue means that most of the pages are plastered with word balloons, removing much of Abrera’s flexibility to experiment or pace out the beats of the conversation. It’s unfortunate; Abrera’s characters are well detailed and the artwork overall is clean, but those positives often get obscured by the words on the page.
The highlight of the issue comes towards the end as hunter Helen grapples with a ghost haunting a hospital. The relative lack of dialogue in this scene allows both Abrera and colorist Jorge Cortes to open up, creating some truly horrifying imagery as the spirit tries to overwhelm Helen. Cortes gives the phantasm an eerie blue flesh tone, marked by green highlights and pinhole eyes that really pop off the page, especially in contrast to the fittingly bland surroundings of the hospital. It’s the one real place where Spirit Hunters #1 actually delivers on its premise.
Is It Good?
Unfortunately, Spirit Hunters #1 squanders a good concept with its flat execution. Between the underdeveloped world and the characters that fail to register, the story by Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco never takes off. Artist Julius Abrera’s artwork is great when given room to breathe, but the wordy script ends up crowding the page, limiting both Abrera’s illustrations and Jorge Cortes’ colors. These flaws ultimately make Spirit Hunters #1 a disappointing read for those looking for a supernatural horror story.
Spirit Hunters #1 is set to hit stands Wednesday November 9th.