Valiant Comics returning may have officially been a bad thing.
I say this not because the Valiant relaunch titles are bad. To be quite honest they have all been very solid so far; some of them are even really good. I say this because as soon as the Valiant Universe yielded successful results I knew in my heart of hearts that other companies would try and resurrect their own characters from that era with hopes of catching “nostalgia fire”.
And I knew that 90% of them would be, well, not very good.
Ghost #0 is one of those books that is not very good. While Kelly Sue DeConnick, the writer of this zero issue (and the subsequent upcoming four-issue miniseries), takes the Valiant route to reboot an old property by splicing the current with the classic the result falls flat and makes me dread the upcoming miniseries.
For those not in “the know”, Ghost is a character from Dark Horse’s Comics’ Greatest World imprint, a fairly gritty superhero universe inhabited by characters such as X, a murderous vigilante, and Barb Wire, a female bounty hunter who was the inspiration for a really bad live-action film starring Pamela Anderson. If that doesn’t give you a feeling of dread when you hear it then you must not have read comic books during the 1990s. These books were quintessential 90s action comics, with anti-heroes and crazy violence, and in many respects Ghost was no exception. While the Ghost character was written as violent and vengeful the Ghost in the original 1994-’95 series is akin to the classic Spectre of DC Comics fame. She is basically the undead with the ability to become ethereal like a poltergeist, powers she acquires when she is killed while investigating a story (she was a reporter named Elisa Cameron).
In other words she’s Danny Phantom with a gun.
Truth be told I was never that fond of the character. With that being said I was at least a little open to seeing if Dark Horse could successfully bring the character into the 21st century and take some of the things that did work and polish them.
I should have closed that opening up with drywall, wooden planks, and carpenter’s nails.
Ghost #0 is supposed to be a reintroduction and reinterpretation of the Ghost character but all it does is try too hard to make the character work for a hipper 21st century audience. Instead of keeping the Ghost persona as a nosy reporter (and making her the primary character of her book) we are treated to a down-on-his-luck journalist named Vaughn Barnes who is the cameraman for a crappy Ghost Hunters-style show. Barnes finds himself in possession of a box that is housing the restless spirit of a woman out for vengeance and . . . and . . .
And it’s really frickin’ boring, with violent acts that really could have been written out of the script to boot. The whole story is kind of boring. It never grabbed me. It kind of just chugged along to its inevitable conclusion without much intrigue. And after they relegated Ghost to a buddy book, with the Ghost character sharing billing with a schmuck who wants to try and resurrect his journalism career, I found myself really disengaged. Nothing against DeConnick but this zero issue reads like a bad sci-fi TV show. I found myself cringing at some of the cliche’s used throughout the story, ranging from the cocky guy with spiky hair and a propensity to lie all the way to the fallen star looking for a comeback, as well as the lack of overall characterization and the weak plot. The parts that should be humorous feel wooden . . . which lead me directly into the artwork which, for lack of a better term, is mannequin-like. Phil Noto is a better artist then this book belies; in Ghost #0, however, he phones it in big time. The dynamism that Noto’s artwork has popped with in a lot of his previous work is nowhere to be found in Ghost #0. All of the characters look stiff. None of the facial expressions or body language of the characters in the tale do anything real beyond stating happiness, sadness, anger, etc. The action sequences fall flat as well. When a woman can turn intangible and smash a man’s heart right in front of his eyes then it better look cool. In this case it just is.
All in all I was completely underwhelmed by Ghost #0. It is not a good reboot. It lacks strength and intrigue. When your cliffhanger is more like a person stepping off of a very high ladder after 20 + pages of story then you have dropped the ball. The Ghost character wasn’t all that great in the 90s. Thanks to Ghost #0 she isn’t that great in the 2000s either.