Ghost #4

Story by
Art by
Phil Noto
Colors by
Lee Loughridge
Letters by
Richard Starkings
Cover by
Dark Horse Comics

"Ghost" #4 wraps up Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto's mini-series revamping the Dark Horse character from the '90s, and now that we've hit the conclusion I think it's fair to call it a success. DeConnick and Noto have brought Elisa Cameron back from the dead (figuratively and literally) in a way that explains all, but keeps readers interested in more. In other words, exactly what they should have done.

The script moves at just the right speed as DeConnick switches back and forth between the present and the past, as Elisa remembers the last time she entered the Mayor's black and white fancy dress ball. It's a storytelling method that we're all familiar with, but it's still refreshing to see that DeConnick understands when to linger and when to keep things moving at a fast clip.

More importantly, though, is that DeConnick keeps a sense of menace hanging over "Ghost" #4. Considering that part of it is a flashback, that's no small feat. This is a comic where I found myself genuinely curious on if anyone would get out alive or not, and in the world of comics that's surprisingly rare. The villains come across as formidable, the heroes are trying but in over their heads, and with each new additional reveal on just what the mysterious box does it makes you realize just how dangerous everything is. It's a great set-up, and I appreciate that DeConnick plays fair in the conclusion on how everything eventually wraps up.

At the same time, DeConnick also looks ahead to the future. "Ghost" #4 offers not just a resolution to this storyline, but a springboard to future "Ghost" comics. There's a story lead dangled in front of us, and what's nice is that DeConnick (and incoming co-author Christopher Sebela, who's also collaborating with DeConnick on "Captain Marvel") can use it as much or as little as needed to guide the series forward in the months and years to come. It's in many ways a near-perfectly outlined story structure; DeConnick clearly understands the serial comic format, making it work both issue-by-issue (with cliffhangers and set-ups galore) as well as for an eventual collected edition.

I am sad that it looks like Noto won't be the regular artist on "Ghost," because he's been the other reason for its success. I love how he draws the characters in this comic; he's able to make people look both attractive and realistic; they're good-looking but not model fashion plates that come across as fake. On the first page, when we start with a far-away wide shot of Elisa standing among the others entering the Mayoral mansion and then slowly zoom in, it would have been easy to just reuse the same image each time with a tighter crop. That's not the case here; each of the four panels is clearly its own unique image, but at the same time Noto keeps Elisa's eyes so haunting from one panel to the net that you might initially wonder if he did just duplicate them. It's that continual strength that lends itself well to "Ghost," even as Noto makes a room full of tuxedo-wearing characters (one of the most generic outfits out there) all look different and unique. Then again, this is a comic where the last image we see of her is sipping a cup of coffee, and it's still a strong last glimpse. I don't think there's any doubt that Noto will be missed, and hopefully he can come back from time to time.

I would have laughed at you a couple years ago if you told me that a revamp of "Ghost" would end up being a comic I was eagerly looking forward to month after month. It just goes to show that a strong creative team is ultimately what's important, not the character that they've decided to tackle. DeConnick and Noto have created a fun "Ghost" story, and it's made me eager for more. Good job, everyone involved.

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