In The Run Through, we’ll be looking at completed comic book series, one volume, one week at a time, from the critically acclaimed to the virtually unknown. The goal is to provide our readers with something new to bite into. This isn’t a review, it’s barely a recommendation. It’s an informal glance at comics that made it to their final issue, and we want to read the stories arc by arc, as they were ultimately intended to be consumed. While there may be minor spoilers, any major developments will be vaguely referred to, so don't worry. No stars, no bashing, just what we did and didn’t like. And yes, we want to hear from you too.
Everyone loves a good heist movie, except for those that don't, but I'll pretend they don't exist because I'm not going to pander to an audience of bourgeois film critics who consume nothing but films with subtitles.
Okay that got away from me a little bit, sorry. Let's get back to Ghosted: Haunted Heist, by Joshua Williamson and a rotating gallery of artists. Taking up the visual duties this volume are artist Goran Sudzuka, colorist Miroslav Mrva (the only one consistently here!), and letterer Rus Wooten. The comic is a typical heist story with a damn near impossible misson: steal a ghost. Why the protagonist Jackson T. Winters, who was busted out of jail for this job, didn't just walk away means he's either desperate, crazy, or looking for an adventure, not unlike Bilbo Baggins. So, assemble a team, check out a haunted mansion, introduce yourself to some malevolent spirits, and invite them home for an organic dinner. Home grown vegetables just feel fresher, ya know?
First off, Goran Sudzuka's art was exactly what I expected and exactly what I wanted. There's a certain tone crime comics have, and Sudzuka nailed it while maintaining a believable world, despite all the supernatural characters. Many times, stories will run an uncharismatic setting and toss some monsters in, but Sudzuka blends them perfectly, attaching a sketchy, penciled look to the ghosts. Some eerie scenes, such as paintings nearly leaning out of their portrait to watch a passerby, were done so well that I was genuinely spooked. One scene, where Trick, an aging man with a penchant for card tricks and dark artifacts, finds a door to another dimension (Hell?) was truly startling. I'd probably cry, to be honest.
In any heist movie, or any movie featuring a team, the assembling of said team is by far one of my favorite moments, especially if done as an 80's montage. It's like receiving a blind puzzle and attempting to guess what the picture will be at the end. As much as I hate saying they each “brought something unique,” they actually did. What Joshua Williamson does is apply a coat of supernatural paint to a team of spirit thieves. The tech savvy brothers are ghost hunters with a TV show; the person with inside knowledge and expertise is a psychic; one dude is a, uh, magician.
The only set back is the beginning of the story. Had it been single issues, I may not have picked up the second book. While the premise is strong, I didn't feel any motivation for Jackson, aside from “get rich, no more jail,” especially considering a dark moment in his past. Anderson Lake, the old rich white guy's bodyguard, is one dimensional, and felt more like something to get Jackson from point A to point B. But the old rich white guy, Markus Shrecken, is enigmatic enough that I wanted to see things through. The latter half of the book, or even just the second chapter, much stronger.
The connection Markus has to the house is actually quite fascinating. The inclusion of a ghost that isn't looking to simply harm all who step in the house, but actually has a purpose, reveals the story behind Markus, and brings more weight to the location. I didn't think I'd be rooting for a ghost the way I was.
And so begins a new series! Sweet Tooth: Unnatural Habitats should be read and written about by Tuesday, as long as life isn't a complete asshole. Then, Ghosted: Books of the Dead in a week! Maybe! Life is hard, you guys.
Fermin Gonzalez once graduated from college, and it made his parents very proud. Now, he spends most of his time substitute teaching where he can never get the kids to a reasonable decibel level, but at least they like his hair. Follow him on Twitter @koky_sorta.