I liked Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto's "Ghost" stories in "Dark Horse Presents," enough that I made a note to pick up "Ghost" #1 this month. (Those stories have been reprinted as "Ghost" #0 if you missed them.) With this first full-size issue, DeConnick and Noto have taken advantage of the extra space to up their game, and have turned a good serial into a great one.
It's hard to open a book with a character's interior monologue explaining the story of Athena, but credit where it's due: DeConnick makes it work. The analogy of how Ghost got ripped from the afterlife into the world of the living is an odd one for the birth of a goddess, but it works surprisingly well here. From there we switch back and forth between Ghost and the other two main characters (Tommy and Vaughn, the hosts of the TV show "Phantom Finders"), and a new version of a "Ghost" villain, Doctor October.
One of the things that I liked about the progression of the story is how well the book flows. The plans of Doctor October directly affecting Ghost is surprising but grabs your attention, and every time there's a scene change it feels like it's at just the right moment. And as each character's story connects one scene to the next, you start to get a stronger feel about the overall world of the character. The original "Ghost" series was preceded by a 16-part "Comics' Greatest World" mini-series that established the world and characters, but I feel like I've got a better grasp of the character and her situation here already.
The original "Ghost" series debuted with Adam Hughes as the artist, so it's nice to see someone as high caliber as Noto on the new "Ghost" right from the start. His art looks great -- some of my favorite pages from him to date -- and it's very expressive. The tight zooms on Ghost's face in the diner on the first page give her a wonderful steely expression and eyes in particular, and the switch from every-day clothes to the splash on the next page has just the right visual punch. Add in the body language from characters like Tommy and Vaughn as they sit opposite Ghost, or the dangerous grin on Doctor October's face, and the end result is a book that has the same visual punch as its script.
"Ghost" #1 is not only a strong first issue, I think it's actually much stronger than the original series that inspired it. DeConnick and Noto are quickly building towards something big, and I for one am dying to see the next installment. Revivals of old concepts seems to be the current rage, and it makes me wish that all of them were as good as this one.