“GHOST” #1 (Comic Review)
The multi-faceted Dark Horse Comics has had a low-flying hero universe for over twenty years. From strange, one time characters such as The Moth and The Escapist to the largely popular Hellboy (who’s even crossed paths with Batman and Robin at one point), the company has been slowly building its stable of do-gooders through solid storylines and dedicated readers. One of the most well-known characters is Ghost, a woman not quite living but not quite in the grave, whose mission it is to stop the hordes of hungry demons eager to nibble at our tender souls. Forever trapped in a semi-corporal state, she attempts to keep the gates of Hell from opening on our world while searching for answers to her own forgotten past. After making semi-regular appearances throughout the Dark Horse-verse, Ghost is once again the star of her own series, creating a launching pad for new and old readers alike.
Issue one opens up on a classic, superhero smash-up as Ghost crashes into a subway, while punching a demon through a window. Spewing insults, the demon retaliates with a flurry of attacks, only to be exorcised from its bodily host, leaving the dying man to utter Ghost’s living name, “Elisa.” As our heroine ponders her previous relationship to the deceased, the police on the other side of town have a bigger problem on their hands. As it turns out, an old serial killer had been working the streets again, slaughtering whole families in the most gruesome of fashion. While Ghost’s partners in crime are damned sure it’s the work of another demon, she is determined to figure out the mystery of her past and how the unknown dead man ties into it. As she delves deeper and deeper into her own personal mystery, Ghost will be forced to take strange paths best left undisturbed.
Ghost has been around for almost as long as Dark Horse itself, first debuting in 1993 in COMICS’ GREATEST WORLD, a superhero imprint of Dark Horse Comics. Though the new addition unfortunately drowned in the receding of tide of comic fandom several years later (and taking most of the titles with it) Ghost managed to stay afloat with a steady series of issue runs throughout the mid and late 90s. By the new millennium, the character had become more or less a staple of the industry, re-appearing in crossovers, special issues and solo miniseries’. In this new, bouncing addition to its already overflowing story, Ghost returns with a hell of a punch, successfully bringing back a solid hero on par with her DC and Marvel counterparts.
The first and most obvious reason this new GHOST works is it’s an easy superhero story to get into without having to read a thousand back issues. The legacy of the character is, at this wonderful point, where a reader can discover a new caped crusader and not only easily catch up on her adventures, but can still have front row to what will surely be a continuing and expansive universe for years to come. It’s a great place to be right now. Another fantastic appeal is that the title doesn’t limit itself to the genre of “superhero.” Even just looking at this first issue, it’s obvious to see that there is more to the work than just wacky villains and inane shenanigans, but a hefty dose of blood, crime, and demons galore. It’s a bit like Batman meets Hellboy meets Buffy. It’s even got a little romance for you soft-hearted types.
The current series is being penned by a writer duo of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Chris Sebela. With their powers combined, they’ve managed to create a smooth, sharp read while staying true to the pre-established characters. The story plays as a mix of crime drama and superhero turmoil, flowering a well-rounded comic with plenty of action along the way. Ryan Sook’s art is an excellent complement to the script and, having previously worked on other macabre titles such as THE SPECTRE and ARKHAM ASYLUM, his style is well versed in everything spooky. The character designs are beautiful, illustrated with sharp detail. The creative team on GHOST just seems to work in tandem and it’s apparent in the preciseness and deliberation of the issue. With these three at the helm, this could be an amazing series.