After several “Dark Horse Presents” shorts, an introductory miniseries and now the first storyline of an ongoing series, Kelly Sue DeConnick’s written her final “Ghost” story. (Her co-author for the previous three issues, Christopher Sebela, is taking over next month as the regular writer alongside new artist Jan Duursema.) And this issue’s look into Elisa’s past, before she was turned into a ghost, it’s a fitting farewell from DeConnick to the character.
“Ghost” #4 lets us see more about Elisa before her death, courtesy of a eulogy written by her childhood friend James Brooks. We learn about her strong will even as a teenager, in what starts out as a series of fun games and then turns into a dangerous discovery in a forest. It’s a story that starts off light, a slice-of-life story, but then grows progressively darker in both a figurative and literal manner.
What makes the story work as well as it does is DeConnick’s portrayal of Elisa’s sheer charisma even then. She draws James and the rest of her friends into her orbit, but never in a malicious or manipulative way. Rather, it’s the life energy that pours off of her; fitting, considering that in the present day, she’s most definitely no longer alive. You can see why James was attracted to her back then, though, and you can also believe that when Elisa faces off against the villain of the piece, that she was willing to stand her ground.
Geraldo Borges draws “Ghost” #4, and he handles it well. It’s that confrontation scene at the end of the flashback story that sells it for me; not only how Elisa and the other person’s faces are floating in the darkness that has settled around them (making them feel very isolated and away from everyone else), but their expressions. Elisa in particular looks both scared and defiant, a perfect mixture that just nails DeConnick’s script. Add in the look on James’ face as he runs away, and it’s a wonderfully chilling moment.
The comic is bookended by a story in the present day, not only with the discovery of James’ eulogy, but also seeing Elisa and how she’s operating to protect others within Chicago. It works well, a connection to the book going forward, as well as letting us see the adult Elisa being very much a product of who she was despite the loss of memory. I’m sad that “Ghost” #4 is the last issue for DeConnick (even though it seems like “Ghost” will be in good hands thanks to Sebela and Duursema), but she’s exited on a high note.