By Andy Mansell | Contributor Published: 07/13/2013 10:00 am EST
Publish date: July 10, 2013 Publisher: Image Comics
Ghosted feels all wrong from the first page. The author, Joshua Williamson, summed up the six-issue miniseries as, “Ocean’s 11 in a haunted house instead of a casino.” These are supposed to be creator-owned comics, not a Hollywood pitch meeting for the next big movie or TV series tie-in.
Maybe, this is a supposed to be a parody? As all good comics historians know, the term “ghosted” refers to another artist providing all the work and getting a little of the money and none of the credit. Are we supposed to be picking up the clichés? I am sure the creative team of Williamson/Sudzuka/Mrva are talented individuals, but as a comic Ghosted fails on every level.
The artwork by Goran Sudzuka is lifeless and the opening scenes inside a maximum security prison are an embarrassment. If this was an attempt to show the horrors of prison, then it was a better example of poor execution. The art is dull and two-dimensional.
On a second reading, I have decided that the artist is not wholly to blame for this…the coloring by Miroslav Mrva is all wrong. What a well-lighted and deep-focused prison we have here. There is no sense of dread or hopelessness; there is just page after page of embarrassing HBO/Showtime appropriate images.
Once the action moves outside the prison walls, the comic gets even worse. The big meeting with the Scary, Rich, and Malevolent Old Guy who employs a Hot Female Body Guard Assassin (sigh) has potential, but it goes nowhere. The room and library are rife with possibilities, but instead we get a lot of half-hearted execution. Look at the titles of the books on the shelf. What a wasted opportunity. And the colorist paints the entire sequence in reddish tones. Oh hell.
The artist changes his style somewhere toward the end of the book. What are we supposed to take away from the Trask Family portrait? Ahh…I’ve got it—The Addams Family meets The Manson Family. Now that alone ought to get Joshua Williamson his movie deal, because as far as this first issue suggests, that is all Ghosted wants to be.
There is no character development outside of standard Avengers cum Dirty Dozen clichés. We get the horror comic version of the Rooney/Garland MGM musicals: “I’ll write some stock situations, you can look concerned, and I know a haunted house we can use!”
The attempted humor is just one misstep after another. Once our hero is offered his plotline—steal a ghost from a haunted house before it gets demolished or go back to prison—he makes some demands (“First thing’s first—I want a suit like Sinatra’s (Ocean’s 11) and a Russian Hooker (The Sopranos)”). I figured our hero’s first demand would have been a t-bone steak with potatoes and a lot of beer. But what do I know? The closest I’ve been to prison food is watching The Blues Brothers and Naked Gun 33 1/3.
Along the way, there are a few plot hints: Why can’t our man die? What is his problem with knives? What is the millionaire’s deal? Frankly, based on the execution and style of this first issue, I could care less. Why not just wait for the TV series?
Andy Mansell lived in Chicago for over 40 years until his doctors advised him that he would die soon unless he got as far away from the land of Italian combo sandwiches and soft serve frozen custard. He is currently growing rather old rather quickly in Charlotte, NC as a member of the Waistline Protection Program. He lives for four things: his family, baseball, opera, and of course great comics. He is also looking for a ride back to Chi-town for just one more breaded steak sammich. He will provide gas, guaranteed. Contact him at this address.