Reading AWA Studios’ Old Haunts, I was reminded of Martin Scorsese’s Netflix masterpiece The Irishman. It was a film that took a melancholic approach as opposed to the youthful energy of his other gangster epics, as it was aging lawless men who have passed their prime and are looking back at the sins they have committed throughout their lives. This theme is echoed in Old Haunts, albeit through a supernatural twist.
Old Haunts focuses on three made men Alex, Donny, and Primo, all of whom are on the edge of retirement and are preparing for one big score. However, the trio has a number of obstacles before the impending deal, from the vengeful FBI Agent Lopez, to the sudden appearance of ghosts of their sinful past.
Writers Ollie Masters and Rob Williams mix two genres that usually don’t go together. It has great potential, and is largely saved by Laurence Campbell’s art (more on that later), but falls flat on a storytelling level. Through its five issues, Masters and Williams give enough in terms of backstory and motive towards the central trio, but they don’t quite push the envelope in either genre to make the mashup entirely work.
In terms of the crime side, which plays better than the horror element, you have three male protagonists who go down the typical pitfalls you expect in these kinds of stories, but we don’t quite understand the bigger picture of this whole situation because the writers seem to be somewhat in a rush to reach its violent conclusion. The biggest missed opportunity is Agent Lopez, who is presented as a supporting character despite having the most interesting arc, which is tragic. Although the writers want to tell a story about lawless men being haunted by their past actions, having more of a female perspective would have given Old Haunts a fresh approach.
Laurence Campbell’s art is the one saving grace of this series. Reminiscent of the art of John Constantine: Hellblazer artist Aaron Campbell (no relation), Laurence Campbell knows how to visually blend the two genres where he can draw murky surroundings of the crime world and the sudden shift into surrealism with aplomb. Along with Lee Loughridge’s bold coloring, Campbell’s wide paneling and few double-page spreads is where the book is at its most cinematic and visually graphic.
Incredible artwork sadly could not save this failed mashup of genres. Old Haunts has potential, but never reaches any sense of emotional engagement.
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