Written by Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley, drawn by JM Ringuet, Hoax Hunters has a fairly irresistable central premise. What if all these TV shows we see on the lower end of the channel guide, the ones where people go to haunted houses to see if they can find ghosts, were actually a big cover up? Instead of being shows made by producers to make fun of gullible viewers who think monsters exist, they are instead shows made by the Government to trick gullible viewers into thinking that monsters DON'T exist! The three presenters are actually agents who have to cover up the existence of monsters by making documentaries which tell viewers that each sighting is actually a hoax.
Interestingly, Image have decided to release an issue #0 for the series - with a teaser for issue #1 at the back - which takes the premise to Russia. Things start off simply enough, and then go completely insane before we reach the end. It's been a while since I've read a book where the writer takes such manic glee in making things so absolutely crazy, and it's incredibly good fun to watch it happen. In fact, the sections of the book which are calmer and don't create pure nonsense are actually the weakest sections. Not in the sense that they're about exposition and setup, but more in that they don't seem to fit in to the central narrative, which is nutso. The three members of the team - redhead girl, undead-looking-man, and awesome bald leader (I left my copy of the book in the other room and can't be bothered to go get it) are developed rather quickly, leaving the bulk of the issue free to inspire a Russian conspiracy to create a supergod mechanoid weapon of mass destruction.
But first, the astronaut suit which is flown about by a load of ravens. This is the monster which gets the team involved in Russia, in what appears to be a 'monster of the month' type format the book will likely take once it hits issue #1. The characters are all rather simple for the time being, but making them simple means Moreci/Seeley can really go for broke on the jokes and silly interaction. There are some nice reveals about the team later on, and show that there's going to be room for the book to expand beyond its central premise, once positive decimal numbers kick in. Awesome bald leader is particularly fun, although undead-looking-man takes rather a backseat for the time being. The book gives them all some things to do, but the redhead girl and ABL get the real showcase moments, and steal the book away.
JM Ringuet's artwork immediately knows what to do with the story, and goes all-out on dynamic action shots, heroic posing, and villainous monstrosity. Each page is as gloriously over-the-top as the dialogue and story, with some neat character designs keeping the central three recognisable and entertaining. Ringuet never misses a beat, and it's a shame he won't be handling the series beyond this point (unless he is? So far, solicits suggest that Axel Medellin ((whose work has a lovely, Rich Ellis-esque vibe to it) will be handling the main series) as his sense of vivid, off-kilter perspective works wonders on the page. The colouring is spot-on, also.
Hoax Hunters is a crazy, crazy comic, which gets more and more bizarre as it goes on. If every issue starts off fairly normal and descends into uncanny, tightly-scripted madness as it goes on, this is going to become a real treat to read every month. Issue #0 is certainly a promising start.