Friday, January 15, 2016

Ghosted Volume One: Haunted Heist

This book collects the first five issues of Ghosted, a comic book series that combines two things I love: crime and horror comics. The covers are by Sean Phillips, whose work on Criminal and other books I adore, but the guts of the story did not really live up to my hopes. The premise here is a high-concept one: a rich, old, crooked eccentric hires a seasoned, troubled crook to steal a ghost from a haunted house where a remarkable amount of murders took place:
In order to accomplish this job, the crook, the impressively named, Jonathan T. Winters, gathers a rag-tag crew. I have to be honest, some of the folks in this group just seem thrown in for the sake of driving the plot forward, and some of them are clearly just cannon fodder. You can see the potential victims here:
And because this is a heist book, complications arise, backstabbing happens, and there are a bunch of plot twists.

In the end, this book was not really my cup of tea. The characters were unlikable, which I actually don't have a problem with (I like Arrested Development and The League for instance), but also very flat and uninteresting. I get that Jackson T. Winters is supposed to come off as some kind of master criminal/John Constantine type, but he falls way short of those expectations. Also, the heist aspects of this book just left me cold. There were points where big twists, turns, and reveals happened, but I did not feel there was ample set-up to make them satisfying. I enjoyed some of the horror aspects of the book though. And the artwork, while not spectacular, was solid in its storytelling and especially fun when it focused on the gruesome spirits. Maybe later volumes are better, but I don't really feel motivated to seek them out.

This volume of Ghosted is a collaboration between writer Joshua Williamson,  artist Goran Sudžuka (Y, The Last Man), and colorist Miroslav Mrva. Williamson talks a bunch here about the origins of the series, which is currently up to issue 16.

The reviews I have read about this book have been pretty mixed. Rob McMonigal felt it started badly but got better and summed up, "Horror fans who appreciate carefully crafted visual storytelling really need to jump on this one."  Nina savaged it in her review, writing, "The book is notable deficient in terms of plot, artwork and characterizations without even mentioning the author’s insulting attempts to shock his audience in that very first panel." Patrick Hester liked the book but his review seems lukewarm, including blah statements like "It definitely falls in the supernatural horror genre, and if you're a fan, you'll like this."

Haunted Heist was published by Image Comics, and they have more info about this book and series available here. This book features nudity, extreme violence, profanity, and some scary supernatural images, so I recommend it for readers who can handle those things.

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