As many have noted, there aren’t enough female-led series on the comic shelves. This is a welcome return then.
Created by writer Eric Luke, Ghost debuted in the midst of the wild times known as the ‘90s. As a well-written female character, the heroine was successful enough to outlast most of her contemporaries, and had crossovers with characters such as Hellboy, The Mask, and Batgirl, and now after a lengthy absence, she’s back.
This first volume collects Ghost #0-4 from the character’s reintroduction in the pages of the revamped Dark Horse Presents anthology series, and for readers like me who have been aware of Ghost, but never read her adventures, this is a great place to start. Her origin, as reporter Elisa Cameron, is fairly straightforward, but this series takes an interesting tangent by not focusing so much on the paranormal elements, although they feature more prominently in the last two issues, but rather on the relationships around her.
Tommy Byers and Vaughn Barnes of paranormal investigation show Phantom Finders are Ghost’s surprised new friends. Vaughn is a skeptic, and Tommy isn’t, but both men find what they’re looking for in astounding ways when a mysterious box comes into their possession, and brings the titular, white-clad heroine with it. Initially she doesn’t speak, but after a deadly interaction with two men chasing the box’s retrieval, the hunters and the heroine go on the run.
Ghost becomes more talkative as she and her two new associates begin to get to know each other, but primarily get to know her, and reform her missing memory. Her inner thoughts gradually form the information on her origin and her abilities and although there are quite a few characters here, including Vaughn’s ex-wife Caroline, the dangerous mayor of Chicago, and the creepy Dr. Linda October, writer Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel) retains a singular voice throughout. It is a story that grounds the paranormal a tad too much, and doesn’t start to release the supernatural potential until later in the story. However, this is an origin tale, so perhaps now that Ghost knows her identity and calling, it will become more outlandish and bold, now that an ongoing series has been announced. DeConnick will also helm the ongoing, with writer Christopher Sebela, and rare interior art by the talented Ryan Sook. That series launches in November.
Ghost’s original series had artwork from some of the industry’s best, such as Adam Hughes, Terry Dodson, and John Cassaday. Fans will be pleased to know that that tradition continues, as thankfully underneath that sublime Alex Ross cover is the work of the talented Phil Noto. There’s really no one else who does work quite like Noto, with his retro, stylish, and oh-so-cool visuals. Noto and Lee Loughridge share coloring duties, and mesh well. There’s no discernible difference, as both choose a limited, warm palette that goes for a Mad Men style of hues rather than a layered design, and Ghost’s glowing form looks appealing. On a side note, it’s refreshing to see a female character with a costume that covers most of her body.
Bonus features include a sketchbook showing some of Noto’s alternate costume designs, as well as the variant covers.
Whether you’re an older fan thankful for Ghost’s return, or a new one thankful to see another female-led series on the stands, this is a spectre you want to be haunted by.
Kelly Sue DeConnick (W), Phil Noto (A), Noto & Lee Loughridge (C) • Dark Horse Comics, $14.99, July 31, 2013.