By: Kelly Sue DeConnick & Chris Sebela (story), Geraldo Borges (pencils), Andy Owens (inks), Dan Jackson (colors)
The Story: Well, if a demon possession doesn’t ruin your childhood memories, nothing will.
The Review: While a new series that starts with a B- is not doomed by any means, it’s definitely not a good sign of things to come. Presumably, the first issue calls for the creative team to put their best feet forward, with the idea that they might have to take a few steps back later on. When the first issue fails to inspire, as Ghost #1 did, it places a burden on the creators to rev up their game the next time around instead of slowing down to a coast. Unfortunately, #2
didn’t do that, either.
That leaves this issue in a bad spot, having to meet the near-impossible task of making up for the deficiencies of its predecessors. To cut to the chase, it fails. Nearly every weakness that’s sprouted in the last two issues simply takes deeper root here, starting with our protagonist. In terms of likability or any kind of relatable quality, Elisa is simply untouchable, and not just because she’s literally untouchable, though this is a problem as well.
How can you possibly feel suspense for a character who’s immune to nearly every threat and who reassures you as such? In the face of the gangly-limbed demon that’s possessed James Barrow, Elisa give a mental shrug: “He doesn’t scare me. Nothing does.” True enough, after disposing of a whole roomful of such creatures last issue, Elisa has no reason to fear the one, and she gets rid of him in almost no time without breaking a sweat. If James poses a threat at all, it’s to nearby bystanders, but even in that respect, Elisa doesn’t seem all too concerned.
Even worse, James adds nothing to the narrative except his service as a brief distraction. Within a few pages, he’s been eliminated, having revealed zero information about himself except for the already-known (if not presumed) fact that he’s working for Dr. October. Despite this, DeConnick-Sebela somehow think they can manage to drum up some sympathy out of Elisa’s vague apology to what used to be her childhood friend for getting involved with her. They don’t let the fact that Elisa doesn’t remember or know anything about James stop them from trying to have a sentimental moment.
You wonder if you’d be any more moved had the victim in this case been one of the other cast members. Elisa claims the only thing going for her is the people she cares about, but DeConnick-Sebela have barely bothered to build up those relationships into something we can invest in. At one point, when Caroline has been seemingly killed, I kind of felt sorry for the sheer pointlessness of it, but otherwise, I didn’t really care whether she lived or died.
I can safely say the same for Vaughn, Tommy, and Sloan, which makes their respective threats in this issue that much less impactful. DeConnick-Sebela don’t exactly help the situation by dragging the White City Butcher into the lamer side of serial murder. Not only does he turn out to have no supernatural ability at all, but I’m sorry—his sob story is that he moved a lot? Before you can even begin to accept that as a credible source for his homicidal tendencies, DeConnick-Sebela needed to flesh it out way, way more than they actually do, being instead more interested in the Butcher’s newfound love for Sloan.
To end on a suitably ironic note, DeConnick-Sebela offer the gag of Elisa fulfilling her bargain with Beleth by putting him in the Butcher’s body, leading to his subsequent arrest. “You kept your end of the deal,” Vaughn observes.
“Technically,” she replies wryly.
This would be more amusing if not for the fact that there’s no reason why Beleth can’t simply take on his demonic form as he does multiple times in this issue and escape. Then he can take revenge on Elisa and fulfill his initially faux-deal with October all at the same time. I’m sure DeConnick-Sebela thought it a very clever ending in their heads, but in execution, it’s an imprudent stop-gap.
But perhaps the most devastating effect on this series is the loss of Ryan Sook as lead artist. I don’t know if his new cover deal for DC’s Futures End series is completely occupying his time or what, but without him, Ghost has lost its ability to be even superficially competitive against all the other comics out there. Borges provides what mostly resembles DC’s house art, meaning competent, fairly pleasant, and completely bland visuals that look more at home in a C-class superhero comic than a supernatural indie.
Conclusion: Mediocre from back to front, from beginning to end, you wonder if any effort is being spared for the sake of innovation at all. Dropped.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Oh, Vaughn. You just watched what appeared to be a demon mercilessly and easily killing your friend and you think you can just sucker-punch him. That’s hilarious.