*Article Written by Contributor Lido Giovacchini
For those of you who don’t know the Hoax Hunters team includes Jack, the strong black man, Regan, a mystic powered chick and Exorcist reference, Ken an on again off again member of the undead (depending on how the artists feels like drawing him) and former NASA scientist, and Murder a space suit full of crows, he’s sort of like the Stig that way, it’s best just to go with it. Anyway the idea of the case files book is to act as an anthology comic of various short stories of the team’s adventures told in no particular order and with no real major impact on continuity (as far as I can tell).Hoax Hunters is a popular image series about a quirky team of four who pose as reality show hosts looking for famous myths but really cover up the evidence of those myths wherever they go, and I’m assuming it’s also very popular because today I’m reviewing a spin-off book from this called Hoax Hunters: Case Files. In case you don’t know anything about the series beyond what I just summarized above (a lot like I did when I first picked up this comic) the book nicely includes a summary and explanation on its inside cover going over the characters and basis of the story.
The Hoax Hunters stories are generally pretty good but a little hit and miss, out of the total 7 there are about 4 very enjoyable ones and 3 that are more on the weak side of things. The first story features a 90s reimagining of the team in a spot on parody of Liefeldian comics of that era: massive overblown muscles, giant impractical guns, and blatant character riffs (my favorite here being “Wendigo Joe” who totally isn’t Wolverine in anyway). It’s a fun little 4-page story and is very enjoyable, it’s nice to see something from Image willing to mock their own heritage.
The next story is kind of a let down focusing on the team looking for a unicorn in one of the fly-over states. It’s still played for laughs with Regan expecting a majestic creature but it actually being a hideous beast but that’s kind of a tired bit and the story doesn’t feel as fresh or punchy as the previous one.
The third Hoax Hunters story is really wild and really fun, very enjoyable overall. There’s not really much exposition to this one, we’re just dropped into a situation where some guy in underwear has a “Quantum Brain” which lets him warp people through alternate realities. The whole story is just the team running towards the villain as he warps them into various insane shenanigans and parallel worlds. I won’t spoil all the crazy places they go to here but it’s really clever and really enjoyable, like all the stories in Hoax Hunters it’s not a very long story but the creativity and quirky humor of it really make it shine.
The 4th story might actually be the weakest in Hoax Hunters: Case Files #1, where the other stories were concerned with parody, basic set-up and punch line jokes, or just hilarious weirdness this last one kind of lacks any real driving purpose beyond filling pages in the book. The story is, in essence, a Superman riff; in it Ragen is visiting Dirk Bennet mild mannered reporter at the Daily Globe who is in reality Supreme Man. Ragen goes on to detail all of Supreme Man’s exploits and how Bennet has written in detail about all of them and it’s all very basic stuff you might expect out of a 60s Lois Lane comic, and then at the end instead of exposing him she tears up the evidence and reassures him his secret is safe. I guess that ending is meant to be a humorous twist but here it works even less than the Unicorn story because we know that going in she won’t expose him, which is the problem with the whole story: there’s no real unexpected twists and turns, we all know Superman and we know the Hoax Hunters mission statement so nothing is really gonna surprise us, so yeah definitely a weak entry.
Hoax Hunters’ 5th story is just great, easily my favorite, a hilarious gem with a great twist and great execution. It’s Ragen and Murder “investigating” the urban myth of the random Bill Murray encounter. If you don’t know this is a supposed incident where Bill Murray will come up to you and do something fun and random and then finish it up by saying as he turns to leave “no one will ever believe you.” It’s sort of a modern urban legend and the Hoax Hunter’s take on it here is great, I’m not gonna spoil anything else about the story just that the ending is hilarious and even if you see it coming the execution of it is really really fun.
Sadly it’s followed by an ultimately kind of dull story featuring a guest host filling in for Jack (the strong black man who really hasn’t had a big role in this book, seriously this feels like a backdoor attempt at a Ragen spin-off series) who has no idea about the Hoax Hunters mission goal and is hunting for a lake monster. Like the Superman riff it’s kind of a nothing story, it’s not played for comedy or quirks like most of the stories in the book, like it isn’t the shenanigans of the team as they try and prevent him from discovering the lake monster, he stumbled upon it pretty quickly and then they just wipe his mind…not really much else to say. Maybe if this had been spun out into a full issue it would’ve worked but here it just feels too quick and curt to be all that interesting.
The last “story” is a one page little gag focusing on Murder, it’s very quick and very funny. Overall Hoax Hunters is enjoyable in a “2 out of 3 ain’t bad” kind of way; there are enough good stories to make you forget the bad ones and the good stories are usually really damn good.
Coming at this as someone who knew nothing about the Hoax Hunters it certainly makes me want to read more of their comics and it was easy to get drawn into the characters or more rather character of Ragen. That would be my only major complaint, from an outsider’s perspective the heavy Ragen focus did leave me wanting to learn more about the additional members especially Murder and Jack, but for all I know Ragen’s the main character in the actual comics so we’ll call that a wash for now. If you’re interested in the Hoax Hunters or just want a good one and done read pick it up.