Ghost #4 Review

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Eliza Cameron has finally brought low the menace that has plagued her city, and even saved her friends in the process.  What to do when you’ve saved the world?  Your Major Spoilers review of Ghost #4 awaits!

Ghost4CoverGHOST #4
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Penciller: Geraldo Borges
Inker: Andy Owens
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Editor: Randy Stradley & Patrick Thorpe
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Ghost:  “It took a massive melee, but Doctor October’s extra-dimensional forces seem to have turned tail.  Ghost killed two birds with one stone by placing the demon Beleth in the body of the White City Butcher serial killer and sending both off to jail.  After her tunnel-vision focus on the mystery of James Barrow almost resulted in the death of her only friends, Ghost is inspired to set her personal quests aside and fight for the safety of the whole city.

With his desecrated body laid to rest, James Barrow (whose only fault was to have known Elisa as a child in the Chicago suburbs) is finally in peace.”

“JAMES WROTE ELISA’S EULOGY…”

Having read the first two issues of Ghost, I found it to be a cool story, but didn’t really have the love for the central character.  (I was always a Golden City fan, though King Tiger was lovely nonsense as well.)  This issue opens with Ghost’s friends, Sloan, Vaughn and Tommy opening the storage space belonging to Eliza’s old friend James.  Among his effects, they find clippings and pictures of Elisa (Ghost) Cameron when she was a little girl, leading to a lovely visual moment where the artist cuts from a photo of young Elisa to her grown-up self, and Borges and Owens do an excellent job of making it clear that this is the same person.  (That is a lot harder than one might think, as even established veteran artists of decades aren’t always drawing the same character from panel to panel.)  Grown-up Ghost Eliza is busy on the trail of a couple of jerks who beat a prostitute in her neighborhood, while writer Kelly Sue DeConnick breaks our heart by having Tommy read aloud the eulogy that the late James wrote for his childhood best friend and love.  The issue then jumps back and forth between a story set when James and Eliza were about twelve and…

…it’s very heard to read for all the right reasons.

A TOUCHING STORY OF CHILDHOOD?

Ghost has, in my experience, been a difficult character to get into, being a (mostly) intangible spirit from beyond, but this issue gives us a glimpse into her past and childhood, as well as showing us that, even though she doesn’t remember who she used to be, she’s always been a protector.  I really enjoyed the glimpse into her past, as well as James’ perspective on our main character, finally giving her the (you should excuse the expression) fleshing out that I’ve wanted for the character.  The eulogy ends with the thought that, wherever the late Elisa is, she will still be looking out for her friends, a sentiment that is wonderful (because she *is*) and terrible (because she failed to save James) all at once.  This is a really successful stand-alone issue for me, with a little bit of Ghost in action (or, to be honest, the aftermath, as we never see her in action) and a lovely final shot of the main character walking towards the read with a grim look of satisfaction on her face.  As final issues go, it’s an amazing statement by the writer, and leaves the character of Elisa Cameron in a strong position to continue her adventures with her new creative team.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A FITTING EXIT FOR THE WRITER

Having been around for the genesis of Comics Greatest World over 20 years ago, I am surprised to see that Ghost is the character who has the most traction out of that line, surpassing even X (who is like disco bondage Batman) in popularity and number of issues in print.  This issue, for perhaps the first time, shows me the reasons for her longevity, and really puts Elisa Cameron in perspective as a person rather than just an avenging spirit with rage issues.  Interestingly, even though I found some of the wide-shot panels to be a little indistinct and sketchy, the close-up work is amazing, and the final full-page shot of Ghost (the first one in the issue, I might add) is simply breath-taking, metaphorically echoing the writer’s walk into the sunset.  Ghost #4 works as a one-shot, as a goodbye, and as a strong statement about the nature and character of our hero, and looks good doing it, nailing the landing for a very impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall.  I’m a fan of her Spectre-type trapping, but now Elisa Cameron is as compelling as Jim Corrigan in many ways, a development of which I highly approve.