In Review: Spirit Hunters #5

Stronger visuals would have improved the impact of the tale considerably.

The covers: Six covers to find if the spirits are willing. The A cover is by Anthony Spay and Jorge Cortes. This has Ellen being overwhelmed by three spirits that are confronting her. She sits on the floor, her eyes closed, hands over ears, and mouth open in pain as the creatures swirl about her, their cries attacking her senses. This is a great cover that makes the vapors monstrous and shows how the heroine is assaulted by them. The colors are also great with all the blues making the creatures ethereal. The B is by Harvey Tolibao and Ivan Nunes and seems inspired by the spirit from The Ring. This female specter has turned to the reader with a scream and sends supernatural energy hurling out. The character looks appropriately spooky, her hair spiraling about in unnatural lengths, and the energy coming out of her looks great. A nice cover that previews what’s to come within. A woman opens her apartment door and pauses, hearing something behind her. She better not look, because across the hall something unnatural, with sharp teeth and nails, is sizing her up. This C cover is by Alfredo Reyes and Leonardo Paciarotti. It’s good, but the top third of the image is unnecessary; the action should have been pulled in closer to the reader. Even with the title on this frontpiece, there’s too much that’s not needed. The D is by Riveiro and Mohan Sivakami. It shows Vera bound to a chair with something rising up behind her. Why a ghost would need to bind her to a chair in a basement is questionable, so this, like the B, might be showing an event that comes within this issue. This cover is unsettling due to Vera’s ripped clothes, the chains in the foreground, and the shadow of the unknown antagonist. Nice. There are also two Wizard World Portland Exclusive covers by Elias Chatzoudis; one variant is limited to 500 copies, with the other limited to 100. I was able to find an image online of the 500 copies edition. This shows a young blonde woman, wearing a red sleeveless top and very short denim shorts, stopping her bicycle outside a coffee house. She’s turned her head to look at the reader and a small smile appears to spreading across her face. This image has nothing to do with this issue, but the girl is certainly attractive. I couldn’t find a copy of the 100 copy edition, so good luck tracking that one down! Overall grades: A A, B A, C C-, D B, and Wizard World Portland Exclusive (500) A-

The story: In Missoula, Montana, a woman is in a storage room sitting in a chair. Her arms have been opened and the floor is covered in blood. As she looks down at the fluid leaving her, two female spirits enter saying, “You…You did this!” Meanwhile, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Vera receives orders from Dr. Chase that she, Ferguson, and Curtis are to go to Montana where a teenager has stated she was attacked by a spirit. The trio arrive at the apartment complex and Vera is given confirmation that a room is available there to rent, so they don’t have to stay in a hotel. Ellen didn’t accompany them on this mission because she’s recovering from last issue, which causes Curtis to wonder if she fakes seeing spirits. His comment causes Ferguson to stop him in his tracks and tell him that Ellen woke up with slicked arms the last time she went into the spirit world — there was no way to fake that. Curtis shuts up, but seems to still question her abilities. The trio make their way to the apartment of the first witness, but get no answer at the door. Instead they met Damon in the hall, who tells them the witness is probably out at the gym. He leaves, sparking different reactions from Vera and Curtis. “Little Sister”, conceived by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Pat Shand, and Dave Franchini, and written by Tedesco and Shand, is a neat little one-off tale. It’s a good entry point for new readers and is completely told in this one issue. There are some good scares, with two characters encountering things they’ve not seen before, and there’s a good twist in the end. I especially enjoyed Pages 10, 13, 15, and 19. It was good to see one of the protagonists growing, while seeing another suffering at the hands of an antagonist surprising. The use of the spirits was also unexpected and the last panel set things up for a possible return, should the writers wish to revisit them. Nice, but I’ve really been enjoying Ellen and was a bit disappointed she wasn’t in this tale. Overall grade: B+

The art: Julius Abrera is very adept at moving the point of view around in this issue. The first pages demonstrates this as the four panels progress in showing the woman’s failing state, with the third panel being a good bird’s eye view of the setting. The final panel introduces the pair of spirits as seen from the woman’s point of view. This is good, but the spirits don’t look threatening or too ghost-like. Were it not for the coloring, they would look like a pair of Goth girls. Better are the pages that follow, showing the team going into action. I was very impressed with how Abrera is able to pull off a dialogue held in phone texts. The main setting is also quite the chore to pull off as it’s an older, yet still somewhat, upscale apartment complex. There’s a lot of strong linework to continually create the reality of this environment. The movement around the characters on 4 resembles that of a film, especially with the tight close up of the character in the fifth panel. The actions of the antagonist on 6 build well, but the design of this character really diminishes its impact. Better is the conversation shown on 7; the panels show the speakers tilted back and forth, suggesting that this conversation may not be on the up and up. The layout on 10 is really good, with panels two and three building one whole image, but interrupted by the actions in the first and third panels. Page 11 is a full paged splash, but it doesn’t work too well because the protagonist is too far from the reader. The antagonist is in the foreground, but is in silhouette, keeping this character’s identity a secret for five more pages! The reader should have been closer to the protagonist to feel the character’s fear. When a different protagonist encounters a spirit, the supernatural creature is much better drawn and the reaction from the living character is well done. The visuals are good, more times than not in this issue, but there are minor slips that distract from the reading experience. Overall grade: B-

The colors: The colors tell much of the story to the reader, often leading them to read the book more quickly. Jorge Cortes is responsible for Pages 1 – 18 and Slamet Mujiono does Pages 19 – 22. The use of bright red for the book’s blood soaked scenes is like a beacon in every panel they appear: the reader is instantly drawn to this color. There’s also a bone-chilling blue used whenever the dead speak to a character, making them creepy. Blues are also effectively used for texting, creating a familiar glow onto characters when they use their phones. The characters get some really good shades on their skin, giving them an almost three dimensional appearance. The apartment setting begins to darken as the tale takes a turn, becoming a very threatening environment by the issue’s close. Page 19’s floor color should also be mentioned, as it foreshadows where a pair of heroes are heading. Nice work throughout. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, spectral speech, dialogue, transmissions, phone text, yells, screams, and the tease for next issue are crafted by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios. I really liked how all the forms of communication in the book were given unique fonts. The scene settings have two different fonts, giving different flavors to each location. The phone texts look as though they come from an actual conversation, and the ghostly speech definitely made the spirits spooky. An excellent job. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A creepy outing with a good twist. Stronger visuals would have improved the impact of the tale considerably. “Little Sister” should please those looking for supernatural horrors. Overall grade: B

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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