When a comic like "Ghosted" #1 opens with an overly powerful insinuation of prison rape, there are really only so many directions the rest of the issue can take. Thankfully, writer Joshua Williamson and artist Goran Sudzuka don't follow any of the obvious paths other than having the story's protagonist anxious to escape his current version of hell.
"Ghosted" #1 is a high-stakes caper movie with a basket-case, despicable lead character in Jackson T. Winters, an inmate sprung from prison and tasked with the assignment of stealing a ghost. Admittedly, I wasn't really sure what to expect of this comic book when I opened it up and the first thing I see is the type of prison imagery I'd really rather not see, but Williamson quickly shifts the story into high gear, giving those opening pages more resonance in building Winters as a character. By the end of the issue, Winters is the type of love-to-hate character with just enough biting sarcasm that makes drama work. Williamson spends half of the issue assembling Winters' crack squad of cons and thieves as they prepare to snatch a ghost for eccentric billionaire Markus Schrecken.
The financier of the heist, Markus Schrecken, sounds and moves like Rip Torn, while his gun-for-hire lackey, Anderson Lake, comes across as either a crustier-than-usual Jayne Lynch or Martha Stewart with a severe weapons fetish. Lake is part of the team of seven, with a spread of personalities that join Winters' quest. Artist Goran Sudzuka does a great job of infusing the characters with personality from the start, putting a hook out for readers to take. It certainly helps that his art is somewhere between the frenetic energy of Todd Nauck and the determined detail prescribed by Phil Winslade with Phil Hester's knack for shadows. Sudzuka adds spark and snap to what is essentially a collection of talking heads with background action. Miroslav Mrva's colors seem to show marker lines, as though the pages were efficiently colored assembly-line style, adding hastiness to the story and enhancing the energy of the artwork.
After assembling his squad through a series of standard-issue introductions, Winters sets out to grab a ghost from the Trask mansion, an allegedly haunted house that is staged to play a much larger role going forward. Williamson and Sudzuka have crafted a world in "Ghosted" #1 that we're just starting to see the top of. As this story moves forward, I'm anticipating more surprises, especially since this entire issue essentially transformed into an entertaining surprise literally before my eyes as I read through it. Image has found solid work again and "Ghosted" #1 is sure to find favor in fans of titles like "Revival" and "Fatale."