Sunday, July 14, 2013

REVIEW: Ghosted #1

Writer: Joshua Williams
Artist: Goran Sudzuka
Review: William R. Davis Jr.

"Ghosted" in the comic world means doing most of the work, getting a little of the money, and none of the credit. Living in Asia, I don't get those awesome preview newspapers that always seem be plastered with pictures of Popeye from the comic shop anymore. But Image has all the street cred in the world right now, and I found myself hoping that the quality book parade over at Image would continue unabated. When I read that they picked up God Hates Astronauts at Image Expo, I knew that they were still honed in on promoting quality work. Now I find myself counting down the days until October, and I cannot wait for issue four to hit comic store shelves so I can see some new God Hates Astronauts. For those who haven't read GHA, remember that you heard it here first at The Hammond Comics Blog almost a year ago. Check out the archives for previous reviews and interviews with creator Ryan Browne.

My main motivation for picking up Ghosted was the aforementioned street cred over at Image, and a distasteful loathing of all the reboots and mega events going on over at the Big Two. The opening pages of this book were dark and brilliant, a nice little insight into prison life. I always thought that sitting around reading books all day would be the best part about prison, but it never entered my mind that people would tear out pages to roll joints or write notes leaving all of the stories incomplete. My distaste for prison life has grown immeasurably after reading the first few pages of Ghosted.

Unfortunately this book started spiraling out of control quick. Ghosted is a highly entertaining read, but quickly marched out every overused storytelling trope in the book. The main character is straight out of Oceans Eleven, a master thief whose last attempt at robbing a casino was botched resulting in the death of his crew. Then he is busted out of prison during a staged prison riot by a cookie cutter femme fatale character who promptly takes him to meet a collector of the occult. This billionaire collector of all things macabre wears a red silk smoking jacket and has a study filled with skulls, hands, and 'insert cliche here'. The only thing that is missing is the snifter of brandy. To complete his collection he needs an actual ghost, and Oceans Eleven has to procure one from a haunted house or get sent back to prison. But Oceans Eleven plays by his own rules, and insists on using "his guys" to catch this ghost. A team building montage introducing a rag tag group of rogues ensues, and then they head to the house to do some serious ghost busting.

The art for this book was pretty pedestrian throughout. The best adjective I can come up with is: Serviceable. It's not Dark Horse Star Wars comic book bad, but lacks originality and makes an already worn out theme even more cliche (see previous paragraph). All is not lost with Ghosted. The dialogue is snappy at points, and it needs to continue to be in order for this book to be successful. The first few pages and the last page were the best part. The middle was necessary from a story building standpoint, but left me wanting in almost every way. Purely as a base form of entertainment, issue one is pretty solid. If you're going into this book wanting Fantagraphics you are going to be extremely disappointed, but if you're willing to settle for a supernatural/grand heist romp, Ghosted could hit the sweet spot. Goran Sudzuka draws a very detailed and enticing last page, and although Ghosted did not blow me away I will continue reading. Issue one managed to do its job in that regard. This comic could be good, but there's an equal chance that you're going to see a film poster for Ghosted starring Jason Statham that goes straight to DVD in one to two years. Only time will tell.

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