REVIEW: Ghosts #1

by

Or – “Well, I’m Not TOO Far Behind…”

On Wednesday, the ghosts and goblins came out to scare us out of our minds, and to allow us all to unleash the slutty truth within us.  DC Comics also tapped into the holiday zeitgeist, unleashing an old favorite on the world with little fanfare, but is it a fright-fest or a huge mess?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

GHOSTS #1
Writer(s): Al Ewing/Toby Litt/Cecil Castelluci/Joe Kubert/Neil Kleid/Mary H.K. Choi/Paul Pope/Gilbert Hernandez/Geoff Johns
Artist(s): Rufus Dayglo/Mark Buckingham/Victor Santos/Amy Reeder/Joe Kubert/John McCrea/Phil Jiminez/David Lapham/Gilbert Hernandez/Jeff Lemire
Letterer: Sal Cipriano/Clem Robins/Pete Carlson/Pat Brosseau/Travis Lanham/Jared K. Fletcher/Carlos M. Mangual
Colorist: Chris Chuckry/Andre Elder/Andrew Dalhouse/Lovern Kindzierski/Jose Villarrubia
Editor: Shelly Bond/Will Dennis/Gregory Lockard/Mark Doyle
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $7.99

Previously, in Ghosts:  DC Comics has a long and storied history with scary comics, dating back to the early 1950s and beyond, with the respective Houses of Mystery and Secrets, as well as anthologies like ‘Doorway Into Nightmare’ and ‘The Unexpected.’  Ghosts made its debut around the same time as Stephen and I, at the dawn of the seventies, lasting all the way to the dawn of the 1980s and featuring some damn creepy stories, as well as the fascinating meeting of Dr.Thirteen (the ghost-breaker who did not believe in the supernatural) and The Spectre (a massively-powerful spirit from the great beyond.)  For the last 35 years, though, Ghosts has lain dormant, like a skeleton in your closet, waiting for the time when it could walk again…

DID YOU HEAR THAT?

This issue is a tripled-sized affair, carrying a price tag that’s only a little more than twice the usual DC book, filled with nine different stories by nine different creative teams.  Normally, an anthology book is murder to try and review, but this one is a little bit different from your average anthology.  I first heard of the thing because of a positive review from Kurt Busiek of Astro City fame (let me just pick up that name there), but when a crony of mine mentioned that it contained the final work of comics legend Joe Kubert, I knew I was in.  We at Major Spoilers talk a lot about comics, and I in particular talk about the history of comics, so believe me when I say that this book is reminiscent of old-school Vertigo storytelling at its finest.  Opening with a story called “The Night After I Took The Data Entry Job, I Was Visited By My Own Ghost”, this book is a perfect sampler of horror, with some lovely black humor, followed by the nostalgia of seeing ‘The Dead Boy Detectives’ from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman again.  Their story turns out to be the first chapter of a longer tale, one that promises to be finished in ‘the next Vertigo anthology, something that might annoy me if I wasn’t in such good humor from the first story.  (They really nailed the call-center experience, for one.)

WHAT’S THAT IN THE CORNER?

The third story, ‘Wallflower,’ has a wistful tone to it, ending with a bleak-but-lovely Outer Limits twist, leading into ‘The Boy And The Old Man,’ which may be the last thing that Joe Kubert ever drew.  Notes for the issue indicate that Kubert’s scripted-but-unfinished pencils were on his drawing board when he passed this summer, and the story shows how a simple conceit, in the hands of a master, can make for a story that’s both terrible and touching.  Followed by the one-two punch of ‘A Touch Of Red’ (a solid Twilight Zone ending on a strange tale of love and body-horror) and the pure horror of ‘Bride’ (a chilling story of loneliness and loss), this book is fully rolling when we hit ‘Treasure Lost,’ with successful art by Paul Pope and a somewhat confusing concept.  Even that is less misstep than change of tempo, throwing me full-face into a gem of a story by Gilbert Hernandez, which is in itself worth the 8 buck cover price.  The issue wraps up with Jeff Lemire and Geoff Johns combining forces on ‘Ghost For Hire,’ a clever tale of a man and his dead brother earning a few bucks the hard way.  It’s funny, it’s horror, and it’s a nice capper to the book.

THE BOTTOM LINE: MICAH WOULD HAVE TURNED OFF HIS DAMN CAMERA FOR THIS.

There isn’t a single page of this issue that isn’t at least visually fascinating, and the stories on tap are all lovely little bits, like a Whitman’s chocolate sampler filled with poisons, dead things and the occasional razor-blade.  It’s rare that a horror book never makes an old-school Rod Serling aficionado like me roll his eyes or predict what’s coming, and even the weakest story in this issue is still damn fine work.  The Kubert piece is beautiful, and I was moved, entertained, disgusted and frightened by this issue, the mark of a comic that is more than just your average fare.  Ghosts #1 keeps up a long tradition of scary DC (which, though similar phonetically, is not the same as scary EC), smacking me in the head for missing it in the Previews catalog, earning an overwhelming 5 out of 5 stars overall.  Don’t let the price tag scare you, this book is worth every penny, and it more than triple-sized in terms of reading pleasure.

Rating: ★★★★★

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!

Reader Rating

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)


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