There's A GHOST Of A Chance New Readers Will Understand This Re-launch
Dec 31, 2012
I was there when Dark Horse Comics launched GHOST in series format back in 1995, and, even back then, I thought the property just never got a lot of love. Back then, Dark Horse had created an entirely fictional city/universe called Arcadia, and several new titles (all since disappeared, I believe) cropped up to breathe life and justice onto its busy streets. Of all these new creations, GHOST and X were clearly head-and-shoulders above the rest (so far as this long-time comics reader is concerned), so it’s reassuring to see that GHOST lives on in this new form, though I suspect this read has a long way to go if it’s going to build a new audience as well as capitalize on her existing fan base.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of characters and plot. If you’re the type of reader who prefers review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Elisa Cameron – GHOST’s true identity – returns from the hereafter this time with the help of Tommy Byers and Vaughn Barnes, hosts of a TV program exploring paranormal activity (a clever and contemporary hook if ever there were!). However, Elisa’s lost all memories of her past, so the two ghost hunters agree to join forces with the supernatural superheroine in order to uncover her origins as well as the secret behind the mystery technology that helped resurrect her in the first place.
For the record, I’ve had to do a little research in order to achieve a better grounding in the events depicted in this first issue, and that’s mostly because quite a bit of exposition was provided in the opening pages in order to ‘set the stage’ as it were. As I’ve now found out, there was a GHOST #0 – a subtly creeping phenomenon that’s plaguing too many comic publishers, if you ask me – and I can only guess that those events summarized take place there. (I’ll certainly seek it out and provide some insight in a separate review of that installment as soon as I can.) However, as the reader audience to comic books comes and goes, I’m not so sure that was a great decision. Certainly, I felt a bit lost in reading (and re-reading) these opening pages, and I’d guess I’m not alone in that initial confusion.
Still, I have enough confidence in Dark Horse and their properties to know it’ll all get tied up somehow – if not in a separate issue, then it’ll certainly be handled in a trade paperback.
Responding to what’s here, GHOST #1 successfully introduces Elisa and her two sidekicks, though it’s very light on action. A somewhat mad scientist emerges in a secondary plotline, and, in appearances, she certainly has links to the ultimate source of evil in the universe … or so scribe Kelly Sue Deconnick would have you believe. There’s some solid artwork and, narratively, only a hint of things to come, but the strength of the original two runs on GHOST will keep me glued for the time being. It might not be the most satisfying relaunch I’ve read in some time, however I’ll watch where it goes.
GHOST #1: IN THE SMOKE AND DIN (Part 1 of 4) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is by Kelly Sue Deconnick; the art is by Phil Noto; and letters are provided by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. The issue bears a cover price of $2.99 … and, boy, does Elisa in her GHOST garb look as enticing as ever. And why shouldn’t she? Ghost herself was ranked 15th in Comic Buyer’s Guide’s 100 Sexiest Women In Comics official listing. That’s none too shabby!
RECOMMENDED only for established fans of GHOST, otherwise I’m quite certain new readers might find themselves as utterly confused as I was. It’s never a great thing to re-launch a title and, in the first issue, have to summarize events that took place before the first panel -- as is the case here – but, hey, who am I to tell any writer how to pen a comic book? If this first issue is any indication, methinks scribe Kelly Sue Deconnick has her hands full. Characters come out of nowhere with little or no substantiation – hopefully, a #0 issue makes greater sense of the who, what, where, when and why than the 80-word preface does on the masthead page – and, while it all looks fine so far as the artwork is concerned, I would’ve been completely lost if I didn’t know a thing or two about Ghost’s history at Dark Horse.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital advance copy of GHOST #1: IN THE SMOKE AND DIN (Part 1 of 4) for the expressed purposes of completing this review.