This issue ends with a scene dedicated to names, to naming a body buried shallow in the dark of night, and so it seems only appropriate to talk a little about the name put on the front cover. Not Ghost, that’s important but we’ll get to that part later; what I’m most interested in is the zero. DC are currently running a Zero Month which flashes back into its protagonist’s pasts in order to illuminate their present identities a little further; this issue is not that, apart from one panel depicting the childhood of said corpse. Why Dark Horse have been doing this I don’t know; maybe to squeeze extra sales out of the early issues of their new books? I bring this up so early on because Ghost #0is very much an issue one and is as indispensable as that name suggests. If you’re interested in the book you have to start here and you should be interested, very interested indeed.
Now for the other name, Ghost. It’s a little on the nose yes but unlike the #0 it does it’s job admirably. This is a ghost story in nearly every sense of the word: a mysterious, semi-translucent spirit is sighted by a down and out sceptic reporter who doesn’t know what to believe, just that it’s surely bad and on this he is very right. See this ghost in question is more of a superhero than a spirit, though she is just as haunted; she uses her incorporeal nature as a power, is tied to a gadget and besieged by bad-guy goons. Our all too human hero stuck in the middle of her supernatural story.
It may not sound like much on paper but on the page this concept is extraordinarily compelling and that is because writer Kelly Sue DeConnick treats what could be silly completely seriously. The final line of the book is “Every death matters” and this is something that she sticks by with her script: when one of those goons falls he is not simply forgotten, far from it, instead he is researched and memorialized. Maybe the characters are afraid that a lack of ceremony would leave them open to vengeance, but I’d like to think that they actually just care.
It could be conceived as critical as comics as a whole, though I don’t mean it to be, but Ghost is not just serious, it is a very literary book. The heroes narration which is used here for most of the narrative heavy lifting is highly reminiscent of film noir; even though he doesn’t solve crimes the drunk depressed protagonist a dick in his own way. When the ghost appears he tests her capability by handing her an old volume, remarking that they don’t feel that way anymore.
Then there is the scene where a certainly not sober Vaughn mockingly recites restructured opening verses from classic novels and poems, adding bro at their end. It’s high-brow referencing and low level comedy combined in one, a very clever page altogether. Though it can’t be coincidence that both Kelly Sue and Matt Fraction, married as they are, included extended bro jokes in the first issues of their new books can it? Perhaps they had a wager to see who could use it best and for my money Matt wasn’t the winner.
Phil Noto’s art though is comic book through and through, almost cell shaded in appearance, though with a high level of detail in the linework. It’s because of this that the pristine, pure whites of the spirit, perhaps resurrection Mary, stand out so strongly. When she is on the page the book almost literally shines, so it is something of a shame that she drops that garb by the end of the issue, reverting to a rather normal appearance. I hope that Noto is given some similarly flashy things to do in future because these really suit his style, bringing it back to life.
The only are where this issue is truly a zero is in the way that it works primarily as an introduction to the protagonists rather than the plot; we get to know them well but their situation only in sketchy non-specifics. So it is hard to say for sure just what kind of direction it will take in the future, that i guess will come with the actual first issue, but I do know for sure that I will be there to find out just what it is and just where it goes because of the class shown here. It’s name will be added to my pulllist.