I’ll admit, I wasn’t instantly drawn in with “Ghost Projekt” #1. It felt a little jumbled in places, lacking in focus, and a little too cliche ridden for its own good. Now that the setup is done, though, “Ghost Projekt” seems to be shifting into more of a mood piece, with agent Will Haley and detective Anya Romanova starring less in a procedural investigation and more of a modern horror story.
The big problem with the story is that the main story itself, about the mysterious Dosvidanya Projekt and its history, still isn’t terribly interesting. There isn’t enough meat offered up to hang the entire mini-series upon, and it’s what keeps “Ghost Projekt” from completely breaking through into something that works on all levels. We’re getting remarkably little traction (this is after all just a limited series) and the facts we do have are vapor-thin in terms of interest.
The good thing, though, is that the various set pieces within “Ghost Projekt” #2 are interesting in their own right. Anya talking about the Mongols is a nice little diversion, and Will and Konstantin’s confrontation is suitably creepy. The best part of the issue, though, is the opening sequence where we get to see another one of the killings take place. What you don’t see is in some ways the best part of those pages, the almost always out-of-sight killing force dispatching someone on an icy lake. It’s moments like that which give me hope for the remaining issues of “Ghost Projekt,” that it will all come together for a strong second half and conclusion.
On the other hand, what does work from start to finish is Steve Rolston’s art. He’s an artist who just improves with age; I love the way he draws people with their rounded features, and expressions of shock. It’s the little touches throughout the book that ultimately sell it, though. The splintering of ice on the lake, with the jumbled footprints in the snow leading up to the moment of impact. The grasping hands, trying to push up through the ice towards the surface and the feet on the other side. The final glimpse our victim has, as he slips down through the water and we see the figure through a blue tiny while the ice breaks off all around. It’s a gorgeous sequence, and Rolston (along with colors from Dean Trippe) makes it come together. The same is true for the rest of the book, too; Will and Konstantin’s confrontation in the vehicle works in part because of the close quarters that Rolston draws, making it feel inescapable, and the moment where Yuri is dragged out from the ice actually makes you feel cold. Best of all, the final page of the issue is a lovely stopping point because of the art; it’s definitely something that will generate a feeling of awe, even though it’s just a drawing and not a real thing. I muttered, “Oh, wow,” when it showed up, and that’s exactly what it should do.
“Ghost Projekt” #2 is an improvement over #1, and hopefully each of the remaining issues will continue to build in that way. I hate to say that you could buy a book just for the art, although Rolston really is that good. Fortunately, Harris’s story seems to be rising to try and meet that same level of quality. It’s a promising turn of events.