Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ghosted Vol. 1: Haunted Heist

Right, so I still have Nailbiter by Williamson on my to-read list, and I'll attempt it.  One last chance.  Maybe the old saw is right and the third time's the charm?

Or not.  You never know.  I was hoping for a good, spooky comic with Ghosted after the odd mish-mash story I read in Birthright.  I will say that the comic went by pretty quickly, but that's partially because I was reading to see if it got any better (no) and to see what else would get thrown at the reader (a lot of strange stuff).



Often, I'm inclined to forgive some writing faults if the art is really stunning, and vice versa.  However, although we generally refer to the scriptwriter of the comic as the author, I think that the artists, inkers, and letterers really need equal credit because without them, it would just be a short story, and not this marvelous visual medium.  Alas, both Williamson's writing and Sudzuka and Mrva's art just don't make the cut.

Scene: the lockup.  A prisoner, one Jackson Winters, lounges about in his bunk, spewing faux-profound thoughts about being incarcerated.  Suddenly, automatic weapons fire mows down other inmates as a blond chick with a seriously unflattering haircut storms the prison to break him out.  Anderson (that's her first name ... yeah, right) brings Jackson to the house of his benefactor, a rich old dude named Markus Schreken, who looks just like Christopher Lee in a red housecoat.

Ha ha ha!  Oh, his last name is so clever! It is the German word for "fright."  Because this is a ghost book!  Ha ha ha!

Anyway, Schreken broke Winters out of prison to send him into the old family mansion to steal a ghost.  Winters doesn't bat an eye at this and begins assembling a team.  We have the McG-style intro cards for each criminal Winters brings on board, including a skeptic, a medium, two ghost-hunting brothers, and a con-man magician.

So they go and mess around the haunted house, but only during the day, per Winters' instructions.  But even during the day, the medium can see ghosts, paintings move, and the thief/con-man (oopsies!) finds a door to hell.

Unfortunately (?), they can't steal a ghost without this super-powerful voodoo artifact possessed by ... Schreken.  This all-powerful mask looks like something out of a Scooby-Doo episode.

Then they go back to the mansion, and bad stuff goes down, but as it turns out, Danny Ocean Jackson Winters has the counter-counter-counter moves figured out all ready and they all walk out of there scot-free.  Sort of.  Except for all the people who died horribly, so, not really a mastermind there, buddy.

I mean, with an ideal author/illustrator combo, this *could* work.  Maybe. But remember what I said about both the writing and the art being subpar?  That turns an iffy idea into a "just say no" idea.

I can't really show you all the issues I had with the art, but the main thing is how weirdly simple it seemed.  And not in an pared-down way or a Jeff Brown way, but in a "this is how Pam, Not an Artist, draws people" way.  There's one female character who looks like someone's first attempt at drawing an attractive women, and other characters change their appearance from panel to panel.  The hallways in the haunted house look conveniently like those at the Stanley Hotel (original inspiration for The Shining) with maroon wallpaper and elaborate sconces.  The cover is really cool, though.  If everything were like the cover, this would have been much, much better.

As for the writing ... I just ... here, have some actual lines from this book:

"Chill.  The pill kind."
As opposed to ... the freezer kind?

"It's the curse.  It needs the souls of the willing sinner to power the master and give him neverending life and riches."
Of course it does.  Neverending life and riches, eh?  Sounds like a good gig there.  Also, what kind of malevolent being would give up that information just like that?

"Joe, where are you?  What--"
"I'm dead, bro.  Ghosts did me in."
"Dead? What are you talking--?"
"They got me.  I'm one of them now.  It's okay, Jay.  Well, actually, it isn't, but--"
A touching exchange between brothers.

"Markus stole me away from sex traders on the Bulgarian border."
I admit I didn't see that coming.  But my big thing was ... why Bulgaria?

"How were we supposed to know that place was on top of some old ass Indian burial ground?"
I saved the most culturally sensitive (wink) one for last.  And personally?  I'm pretty sure it should be "old-ass."  With a hyphen.

So, Nailbiter.  You better be good.

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