Archive for Ghosted

President Evil


Evil Empire #2

So how did the future fascist America come about? We rewind 25 years to the present day, where presidential candidate Kenneth Laramy has just used his eulogy at his wife’s funeral to confess to her murder and to declare that it should be legal to kill anyone who you think really deserves it. While controversial and rebellious rapper Reese Greenwood starts a romance with Sam Duggins, the other presidential candidate, Laramy is quickly convicted and jailed, but he uses his trial to preach his psychotic gospel of absolute, unrestrained freedom and if-it-feels-good-do-it bloodshed — and as a result, a wave of violence sweeps the nation. And even worse, the police and prison guards are largely on Laramy’s side, and they allow him to leave prison so he can continue to encourage people to embrace violence and anarchy.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I was plenty doubtful last issue that the creators would be able to build a believable history that brought about a serious fascist dictatorship. But everything about Laramy’s pro-violence platform feels somewhat ripped from the headlines. We do actually have pro-sedition militia loons who want to kill lots of people, and they’re being egged on by big media pundits, partly for the ratings, partly because they know they’ll never get punished for inciting riots, murders and terrorist attacks. We got Florida, which basically legalized murder. We got Georgia, which wants people to carry guns in bars, schools, churches, and airports. We got legislators and billionaires waging illogical wars on homeless people, on the poor, on women and minorities, on solar energy, of all things, on the very concepts of human empathy and compassion.

We can turn on the TV and see sociopaths hosting news shows and appearing as honored guests, doing everything they can to encourage more sociopathy, more violence, more racism. About the only thing keeping the comic book from looking too much like real life is the spectacular lack of charisma or forethought going on among the political and media leaders on the rightward side of the aisle. In the real world, thank goodness, the percentage of psychotics in the population is much, much lower.


Ghosted #9

Jackson Winters is in huge trouble. He’s successfully rescued Nina Blood Crow from the Brotherhood of the Closed Book, but now they’re both trapped in a jungle haunted by hundreds of dead, angry animals. And the only people who can rescue them are, unfortunately, the Brotherhood of the Closed Book. And even worse, the Brotherhood is working with Nina’s mother, Wenona Blood Crow, an organized crime kingpin who helped get Nina possessed by the vengeful spirit of the Skadegamutc. Plus we also get a flashback of Jackson’s last big casino heist and why it went so disastrously, terrifyingly wrong.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a gloriously creepy, bloody story, and it was spectacular fun to read. If y’all love good horror comics, you should be reading this series.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Back for More Blood


American Vampire: Second Cycle #1

American Vampire is back? Yes! American Vampire is back!

We quickly get re-acquainted with our main characters. It’s 1965, and Pearl Jones is running a secret underground railroad in Kansas for refugee children. And Skinner Sweet is hijacking illegal arms shipments on the Mexican border. Of course, they’ve got their own little vampire twists on their new vocations. Skinner uses his ability to survive stuff other people can’t to take out the competition. And Pearl’s refugees are all different species of vampires. But something big and scary is on the horizon — something scary even for vampires — the Gray Trader is coming.

Verdict: Thumbs up. So glad to see American Vampire back on the stands — and especially glad to see that it’s still absolutely glorious, non-glittery horror. If you ain’t been reading this title before, I gotta assume you just don’t enjoy horror. For the rest of you, time to get back aboard the train.


The Witcher #1

If any of y’all have played the “Witcher” computer game, you’re probably pretty familiar with our setting and main character. We’re in a generic European medieval fantasy setting, and our hero is Geralt, a witcher, or supernaturally-powered monster hunter. He encounters a lonely hunter named Jakob, who reveals that his wife is dead — but she watches him from a nearby hilltop. She’d been turned into a vampire, but had thus far been unwilling to attack her husband. Jakob is hoping to leave his old life — and his monstrous wife — behind, and Geralt agrees to help guide him through the Black Forest. But there are things much worse than vampires in the forest.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not expecting much from a video game adaptation? Hah! It’s written by the always awesome Paul Tobin, fools! Of course it’s wonderful! Seriously, the mood is wonderfully grim and claustrophobic. Not a lot of outright scares yet, but the mood promises some really wonderful stuff ahead.


Ghosted #8

Jackson Winters has been captured by the Brotherhood of the Closed Book, but they realize he’s haunted by literal ghosts, which gets him special treatment beyond just torturing him or throwing him to monsters in the dark. Their leader shows him their operation — they bring in girls who’ve been possessed by ghosts and set them to work transcribing the spellbooks imprinted on their souls. Is there a way for Jackson to escape the Brotherhood’s clutches and liberate the girl he’s been sent to steal? And just how many ghosts is he going to have to fight his way through?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So wonderfully weird. The Brotherhood is amazingly creepy, from their eyeless priests, drooling ghost secretaries, and bird-headed demons. And as always, Jackson keeps finding himself in deeper and deeper trouble.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Voices from the Hellmouth


A Voice in the Dark #4

Zoey is still fighting her homicidal urges, but she has a much bigger problem on her mind now — one of her roommates has shanghaied her and another roomie into going to a sorority party. Well, it’s not like those’ll ever make you want to kill anyone, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding art and a fairly light story that still manages to give us some good doses of humor and tension. It’s a very wordy issue — we get four pages of a classroom discussion on the death penalty, which actually does a great job of reminding you this is all set on a college campus. There’s a lot of funny stuff in this issue, but there’s still an undercurrent of weird creepiness going on, too. After all, this is a college town with an unusual number of serial killers — including our lead character.


Ghosted #7

Jackson Winters is on the team for another supernatural heist. He and a small crew — his old friend Trick and two members of a Native American organized crime family — are looking to rescue a member of the family who’s been kidnapped by the Brotherhood of the Closed Book. They wanted her because she’s been possessed by an evil spirit, and they plan to use her for nefarious purposes both supernatural and carnal — and unfortunately, they know Jackson is in town.

After dodging a hit squad — with the help of the ghostly assassin Anderson — it’s decided that Jackson will have to infiltrate the Brotherhood’s compound because he’s the only one in the group who can pass for a generic American businessman looking to get his sexual kicks. But it turns out the kidnapped girl has some dire surprises in store for Jackson.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Art and story are still first-rate. I do wish the scares were a bit more plentiful this time — the new storyarc hasn’t yet hit the levels of creepiness that the first arc was hammering early on.

Comments off

Post Ghosties


Ghosted #6

When last we saw Jackson Winters, he’d got away with stealing a bunch of ghosts, heisting a tidy sum of money, and getting revenge on an awful old bastard. Now he’s hiding out in the tropics and enjoying a life of leisure — but old enemies are trying to track him down, and after they shoot the heck out of him and his old con artist pal Trick, his abductors tell him what they want him to do: steal more ghosts.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see this series continuing — I wasn’t sure whether it’d be back, or if it’d switch over to more mainstream heists, but I’m glad to see it’ll continue with the previous winning formula. I’m also grooving on the groovy weirdness of our group of villains — a wealthy organized crime cartel completely run by Native Americans.


Coffin Hill #4

Eve Coffin’s best friend Mel has emerged from her catatonic state — but something’s very much not right. Might be that she recovered too quickly. Might be how she seems to know things she could never actually know. Might be how she’s got inky black monster goo that oozes out of her eyes and mouth. Can Eve save herself? Can she save Nate? Can she save the missing children?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun writing and art, keen dialogue, ever-rising tension, and so wonderfully creepy. Hope you’re reading and enjoying this one, kids.

Comments off

Marvel’s Many Marvels


Captain Marvel #17

Here’s how weird comics are. They’ve got this one right here. It’s fairly popular, it’s well-regarded, the fans are vocal about how much they like the character, the costume redesign, etc. So Marvel is cancelling it. But just long enough to give it a relaunch and another #1 next March. Why doesn’t Marvel just label every issue of every comic with a “#1” on the cover, if they’re so convinced that’s the only thing that sells comics?

Anyway, this is the last issue of this particular volume of “Captain Marvel.” A lot of it is devoted to wrapping things up with the current supporting cast and discussing Carol Danvers’ ongoing memory problems. There’s also a new villain introduced — Grace Valentine, an electronic tycoon with a towering ego who so hates being upstaged that she learns that a magazine has decided to put Captain Marvel on a cover instead of her, so she launches missile attacks on New York. Can Carol keep the Big Apple from getting cancelled?

Verdict: Thumbs up, for the most part. It’s a good story, fun characterization, nice humor. The motivation for Grace Valentine is a little iffy, but I guess that makes her a typical supervillain.

You wanna know what’s not so good? The art. They’ve got that awful Filipe Andrade doing the art again. So if you want to see people who look like they got their faces run over with a steamroller and their bodies stretched out on pulleys, then this is all for you, man.

That’s really been an ongoing problem with this comic. Excellent writing, amazing covers — and absolutely What-the-Fuuuunzilla art inside the comics. It almost makes it look like Marvel’s been trying to sabotage the comic. Maybe Andrade has kidnapped Joe Quesada’s kids or something.


Mighty Avengers #3

Ladies and gentlemen, Shuma-Gorath his own damn self is invading New York City. Luckily, the Blue Marvel is hear to blow him up! But wait, that was just one physical manifestation of the Void Made Flesh, and he’s going to start dragging himself into reality through the faces of ordinary New Yorkers. The Marvel has already managed to cure Monica Rambeau of her antimatter infection, which gives her a chance to use her powers to create an anti-magic forcefield, while “Spider-Hero” (the big non-spoiler nowadays is that he’s Blade, although they’re going to dress him up as Ronin, for some durn reason) shows off his magical knowledge. Can the entire team work together to dispose of Shuma-Gorath before he fully manifests?

Verdict: Thumbs up, for the most part. The story is pretty good, and the characters are good fun. Again, the problem here is the art. There is just no good excuse for Marvel to continue giving Greg Land any work at all.


Ghosted #5

Jackson Winters’ planned heist of a ghost from the infamous Trask Mansion is falling all to pieces. Two members of the team are dead, one is possessed, and one has betrayed the whole group. And they’re all trapped in the mansion after sundown, when all the ghosts come out to play. What’s the mansion’s secret? What’s Markus Schenker’s secret? And what’s Jackson Winters’ secret? And will anyone get out alive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good ending to the first storyarc — and I’m even more happy that the series will continue, as I was expecting this to be the final ish. I don’t know if any of the surviving characters other than Winters will be back, but I guess we’ll see if Jackson can pull together another team for his next heist…

Comments (2)

Funky Phantoms


Ghosted #4

Jackson Winters and his crew of heist-artists need to steal a ghost out of the notoriously haunted Trask Mansion, and they’ve hit on the idea of getting one of their number possessed by a ghost so they can walk the poor schmuck out of the house and then get him exorcised to hand the spirit over to creepy rich bastard Markus Schrecken. Unfortunately, the guy who gets possessed is Robby Trick, the only member of the crew who can perform an exorcism. Even more unfortunately, one of the reality show videographers, Joe Burns, has already been killed by the ghosts. And even more unfortunately, Anderson Lake, the security consultant, is working against everyone. And worst of all? The sun has set, and all hell is going to break loose.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent, spooky, hard-boiled stuff. Great characterization and dialogue, fun art, and an increasing sense of doom. Just what I need in my horror.


Batgirl #24

Barbara Gordon is in disguise trying to save her boyfriend, but he’s just been shot by Commissioner Gordon. She manages to escape, after beating the snot out of a couple dozen cops and soon learns that Knightfall is behind the increase of super-weapons in the hands of gangs — she lets the gangsters kill each other, then mops up the few who are left. And now Knightfall and much of Batgirl’s rogues gallery are after the Commissioner. How can Barbara stop them all by herself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is really keen, the art is gorgeous, and I’d love to see how it all turns out. Of all the mainstream DC books I’m going to miss when I drop them from my pull list in the next week or two, this is probably the one I’m going to miss the most.


The Manhattan Projects #15

We have only one character in this issue: Oppenheimer. Or rather Evil Oppenheimer, Good Oppenheimer, and their armies of alternate Oppenheimer clones, all waging schizophrenic war within the mind of Oppenheimer. The Good Oppenheimers are trying to control Oppenheimer’s mind through innovation, while the Evil Oppenheimers work to defeat them through assimilation. Which side will win?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A weird issue, even by this comic’s standards. But it’s excellent, it’s violent, it’s funny, and it’s going to make the future issues even weirder.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Get Ghosted




Ghosted #1, #2, and #3

I’ve heard some recommendations of this one, but figured I’d never manage to get it. I hate getting in on a series halfway through, and I figured there was just no way I’d be able to get all the issues of a series after it was already three issues in, right? Nope, I managed to pick up all three issues yesterday, so let’s see what we got.

Basically, it’s a caper movie. Jackson Winters gets broken out of prison by a creepy rich bastard so he can pull off a daring heist in a limited amount of time. The catch? He’s not stealing cash, gold, jewels, bonds — he’s supposed to steal a ghost.

See, the creepy rich bastard is Markus Schrecken, who has a vast and impressive collection of occult artifacts, and he figures a real live ghost would complete the collection wonderfully. And he thinks the infamous Trask Mansion, once home to a large family of psychopaths who murdered almost a hundred people, should be chock full of ghosts worth stealing. But the mansion is due to be demolished in days, so he’ll have a very short deadline to deal with. So once Jackson agrees to the scheme (because if he didn’t, he’d go right back to prison), he starts to build the team of experts he’ll need to swipe a specter.

Schrecken insists that his security expert, a dishy, deadly blonde named Anderson Lake, go along on the heist to keep Jackson honest. The rest of his team includes: Oliver King, keen-eyed skeptic with a knack for sniffing out the truth; Robby Trick, down-on-his-luck stage magician and occult black marketeer; Jay and Joe Burns, professional ghost hunters and reality-show stars; and Edzia Rusnak, psychic and professional medium with a few dark secrets hiding under her skin.

The Trask Mansion is plenty creepy, and though Jackson isn’t sure he even believes in ghosts, its reputation is dire enough that he insists that no one stays in the mansion after dark. And even then, there’s a lot of scary, deadly stuff Jackson and his team are going to have to deal with. Are they going to be able to capture a ghost? Will they ever learn what Schrecken’s game is? Can they trust all the other team members? Will they even be able to survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a ghost heist story. It’s a GEIST. Am I all up in this? Yes, I’m all up in this.

The characters and dialogue are very well done. The writing and art are nice. The mood is there — and I’m not just saying it’s spooky, ’cause it is. The mood is tense and scary and suspenseful, and every time someone goes off on their own, you worry about what’s going to happen to them, because that’s the right kind of mood for anything set in a haunted house.

But it’s also got heist-movie style. As part of the agreement to pull the heist, Jackson specifically demands a nice, tailor-made suit. “’50s style,” he says, “Something Sinatra would have worn.” Yeah, this thing has heist-movie style all over the freakin’ place. And because we know how all heist movies go — perfect planning except for one little detail that causes the whole scheme to blow up — we know it’s not going to end well, and there’s going to be ghosts everywhere.

Halloween is just a month away, and I’ve been craving some high-quality horror. And the perfect horror for Halloween ain’t aliens or zombies or vampires. It’s haunted houses. And this definitely fills the bill. Go get this one, folks.

Comments off