13th Jul2020

‘Ghosts #1 & 2’ Review (DC Digital)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Dan Jurgens (#1), John Layman (#2), Keith Giffen (#2) | Art by Scot Eaton (#1), Wayne Faucher (#1), Andy Clarke (#2), Priscilla Petraites (#2) | Published by DC Digital

Well this new digital only title nearly passed me by, which would have been a crying shame. Why? Well, I’ve always been a big fan of both DC’s ghost and horror anthology titles, at their peak back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and of DC’s supernatural/ magic/ horror characters. For me, they make a nice change from superheroics, and give creators a chance to show a different side to them. This new title resurrects an old DC title, Ghosts, which ran for 112 issues from 1971 to 1982, a title I still have quite a few issues of, issues that get a run out once a year at Halloween. This new title it seems is going to focus more on one and done stories featuring DC’s vast stable of supernatural characters, though in a more mainstream and accessible manner than Vertigo did, and they don’t come much bigger than The Spectre.

Issue 1 kicks off with quite the top notch talent, The Spectre starring and the 18 page story written by Dan Jurgens and drawn by Scot Eaton and Wayne Faucher. We start in Gotham City and Detective Jim Corrigan investigating a mysterious death. An old lady has fallen to her death from a balcony, only her I.D and apartment seem to point to someone who is actually a lot younger. Corrigan, of course, is the human host for The Spectre, and he knows a magical mystery when he sees one. A lead takes him to an antique store, and a clock that the victim had picked up and apparently returned. Corrigan quickly discovers this is no ordinary clock, it runs backwards and steals the life force from its victims, passing that life energy to the owner of the antique store, rejuvenating him. Time for The Spectre to intervene.

Drumaggio takes The Spectre to a dimension he has fashioned, a dimension of time, and decides to try and extract the life force of the spirit of vengeance itself. It doesn’t end well. As powerful as Drumaggio is, The Spectre is an elemental force of nature, driven by the cries of victims to deliver vengeance, which is exactly what he does. Jurgens does a great job here, taking elements of Fleisher’s Spectre but telling his story in a less overtly violent way. Jurgen’s Spectre is very much a hero, whereas Fleisher’s Spectre seemed to enjoy the often very twisted punishment he dealt out. The art by Eaton and Faucher is perfect, both drawing a classic version of The Spectre. My kind of art, full of lovely clean lines, expressive panels, and perfectly paced. Great first issue.

The second issue changes format slightly, with two shorter stories by different teams and featuring different characters. First up we have John Constantine in ‘The Ghost Inside’, by John Layman and Andy Clarke. John’s doing a favour for his best friend, Chas, to help with a haunting a friend of Chas’s is suffering through. It’s a grand old house in Hampstead, London, and as John walks through the house with the owner he notices various strange things happening. This calls for an exorcism. John, though, being John, knows a double bluff when he sees one. Turns out it’s not actually the house that is haunted after all…. I really enjoyed this. Not easy to write a non swearing Constantine and yet keep all his arrogance and attitude, but Layman does that in spades here, Really captures the essence of Constantine and his work in the space of eight pages. Andy Clarke’s artwork is also excellent, visually capturing Constantine perfectly too.

The second story, from Keith Giffen and Priscilla Petraites, features DC classic character Gentleman Ghost in ‘Child of the Night’. Ghost is a villain usually, albeit one with nuances to his character, as we saw way back in JSA. Here he is minding his own business in an old decrepit mansion when Zoe, a young girl running from some attackers, bursts in to hide. Giffen shows us a gentler side to Ghost, where he can simultaneously be a villain and yet be protective of a young girl. He’s old school, in that he’s a thief and killer, but an honourable one. It’s a slight story, but a nice one, and Giffen’s writing is unusually restrained. The twist at the end is nice too. Petraites art is also top notch, really carrying the emotion of the dialogue at the heart of the story.

First impression of the new title? Excellent. When you take into account how cheap the digital only books are, it’s an absolute steal. Two issues, three nice stories with three great characters and excellent creative teams. The only very slight negative is that the stories can be a little less layered than normal, due to space restraints, but good creators tend to find ways around that.

Creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky. Thumbs up from me.

****½  4.5/5

Ghosts #1 & 2 are available on Comixology now.


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