Ghost, whose real name is Elisa Cameron, has been drawn by a myriad of artists since her inception in 1993 including Adam Hughes, Terry Dodson and Ivan Reis, but writer Eric Luke is known best for defining the character during his 37 issue run with her in the mid-90s. "Ghost" #0 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto is the latest incarnation of the character and the first in over a decade, reprinting the serials that appeared in "Dark Horse Presents" #13-15.
The story is simple enough: a two-man crew of ghost hunters rouse the spirit of "Ressurection Mary" (Ghost) for their cable T.V. show. The show's host Tommy Byers is after international fame, while the series' leading man Vaughn Barnes only wishes to get his life back on track, not interested in taking the knowledge of "Mary" public.
DeConnick does a great job of getting into Vaughn's head, but can get heavy on the writing. She deals with minimal exposition and moves the issue along, but as a #0 I'm in the dark as to who this "Ghost" is and why I should be invested in her. That's the main issue here -- Ghost feels like a background character in her own title.
Phil Noto's skill at drawing beautiful women is evident with Ghost, but the issue needs more of her. His simplistic style is a little too simple with wanting backgrounds which include a drab conference room and beige apartment building. Noto is usually spot on with expressions and character nuances, but here something's missing. Barnes and Byers come off much too calm during "holy shit" moments -- like when Ghost first appears their reactions are almost nonexistent and during the most violent scene of the issue involving Ghost ripping out the heart of a thug, there are no reaction shots of the two leading men. Byers especially comes off as too cool under stress given his meathead demeanor. The heart-ripping scene wasn't done in a horrific way like in an Avatar title and it certainly doesn't need to be, but Noto's soft tones make the scene feel less brutal than it really is. This all detracts from the intensity and drama of the book.
I didn't really buy Ghost as a threat until Barnes purchases her food and reveals his inner monologue. This was a strong scene by DeConnick reminding the reader of the power Ghost wields and the situation these two guys have found themselves: trying to figure out what to do with a corpse and a hungry specter who can kill with ease. It's pretty grim when you think about it and darkly comedic. DeConnick also writes a surprising and moving eulogy Barnes gives for the murdered criminal, reminding readers they were all innocent children at one point.
This first installment of the new series pales in comparison to the first "Ghost" omnibus available through Dark Horse, but it's definitely not bad and I'm excited the character is back in the new millennium. DeConnick and Noto show potential, setting the stage for the players to move about in an engaging manner, but unfortunately the lack of focus on the leading lady and missing key beats make this #0 fall flat.