Louis Falcetti writes for Bleeding Cool;
When I first reviewed Hoax Hunters#1 on this site a month ago, I wasn’t aware it had existed before it’s debut issue. Turns out it ran as a back up in Hack/Slash and those backups were collected into #0. I’ve now read #0 hoping to get a better understanding of the team and it’s function so that perhaps I’d enjoy it’s second issue more than I did it’s first. Unfortunately Hoax Hunters #0 gave me no real window into the team’s mission or purpose, especially considering that during the course of their initial adventure they literally rescue an old nazi’s life from the space bird ghost man that’s trying to revenge all over him. Or something. What actually happens at the end of the book is fairly confusing, but given that it was a back up story, I don’t harbor it ill will for not having room to fully flesh out what is really happening in the final scenes. They do totally rescue a nazi though. That remains a head scratcher.
Issue #0 also hammered home the realization that every vocal stereotype will be applied generously to every character from everywhere on the planet. In #0 every Russian spoke without articles (What is alarm? What is bomb?), even when we were supposed to be reading their thoughts in Russian. In #1 the bayou boater immediately begins with lines like “Well da hell witchu den too.”
I will tell you what is fascinating though. You’ve probably read scenes in comics or seen them in movies, where a character who’s suddenly gone through some fantastical, supernatural, otherworldly change moves about in public completely unbeknownst to the greater parts of society. Usually the wiser, older character in the scene will say something along the lines of, “It’s their brains harry!” (In my example the part of the wiser, older character is played by Hagrid), “It’s their simple muggle brains! Anything they can’t explain, why their brain just tells ‘em that it isn’t there at all it is!” You’ve seen this scene and probably thought, “Right, well, I would totally notice a weirdo freaked out giant or a bunch of magical weirdness.” I’m telling you this because when I first read H.H. #1, I DIDN’T NOTICE THERE WAS A CREWMEMBER IN A SPACE SUIT THE WHOLE TIME. I read the comic twice, I read all the comics I review twice, and both times I completely missed the fact that one of the characters WAS IN A SPACE SUIT THE WHOLE TIME.
#2 does have some improvements over the first chapter of this story, but heavy, clunky exposition and plot holes are still an issue. Consider the scene in which the team and the local sheriff attend a group of dead animals and try to decipher the cause. The scene begins at the hotel with the sheriff telling the gang that he’s responding to a call and needs their help. After they arrive by the animal bodies, minutes of inspecting said corpses go by before the sheriff, who has been within sight the entire time, reveals an enormous clue. He says that a deputy is making the rounds to the farms the animals are from and that they are all vacant. So presumably the sheriff either knew about the missing farmers before he arrived at the Hoax Hunters’ Hotel or he knew before they got out of the car at the site. Either way, inspecting quickly decomposing animal carcasses somehow takes precedent over an ever increasing number of missing persons.
Although it shouldn’t be too far fetched to consider that maybe the sheriff really is that stupid, considering the fate that befalls him by the end of the book. That being said #2 is better than #1 and the art remains to be the strongest part of this series. Finally giving the audience a villain to hate is a winning move and the monster on the last page is really disturbing. I’ll fully admit that Hoax Hunters takes the shape of a police procedural at times, which is a genre that I’ve never felt fully comfortable in, so it’s possible that I’m just not the intended audience for the book.
In any case, #2 has better pacing, tight art, and the makings of a pretty smart over arching mythology. The writers just need to get a little more comfortable in their characters and find an easier way to get the plot points across to the audience than having characters just blurt out backstory every other page. When it’s a cop show the book drags, but when it turns up the horror it sings.