Hurrah for gracefully-handled origin stories! That’s certainly what we get in regards to Ghost, Dr. October, and Bobby Chambers in this issue, and for all that, nothing about this issue feels crowded or overly compressed.
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Illustrated by Phil Noto
Ghost finally discovers her true name and identity! As they investigate the mysterious disappearances surrounding a crystal-powered box, Ghost and her accomplices, Vaughn and Tommy, uncover a shocking conspiracy that stretches deep into Chicago’s history of political corruption. The stage is set for Ghost’s confrontation with the demonic mastermind who pulls all the strings–if Doctor October doesn’t get to her first!
So: Vaughn’s tied up in a bed with Dr. October gleefully speechifying at him, letting us know all about she and Chambers’ shared history as she works her way toward the proposition she has in mind. Meanwhile, having discovered her former identity with the help of Tommy, Ghost is starting to remember things — the most important among being how she got dead.
For an issue that revolves around a series of flashbacks, it’s all quite clear and comprehensible, delivering just enough detail at a time to be interesting but not too dense. Stylistically, there’s nothing special going on; we get Dr. October’s narrative captions over the visual for the story she’s telling, and a more immersive, traditional-style flashback for Ghost. But the pacing strikes such an intuitive balance between infodump and spectacle that the issue winds up being a remarkably smooth and enjoyable read.Continued below
The backstory that is being relayed, meanwhile, is novel enough on its own, although never so splashy that you forget you’re reading a flashback. Plus, we get a nice tidbit about the origin of Ghost’s costume at the end.
The only expository tactic that grates a bit is Dr. October’s speechifying, as it seems she’s telling Vaughn a lot more than he needs to know in order to understand her proposition. This may well not turn out to me the case, of course, and DeConnick is sure to wink at us by having Dr. October refer laughingly to her own “No, Mr. Bond — I expect you to die!” sort of position. It also helps that Dr. October herself is so fun to watch and read. Between her high-flying phrasing and Noto’s campy portrayal — one part posing starlet, one part manic hag — she’s just so gleefully villainous.
As for Ghost’s flashback, the only off note here is Elisa’s sister Margo, who comes across as just a wee bit too bubbly and flaky in terms of both her writing and portrayal. Elisa’s first steps toward her goal in the flashback are laid out believably, though, and spaced out good and widely toward the end of the issue, building up the suspense and getting us ready for what (I’m assuming) will be an action-centred fourth chapter.
I think we can all agree on the awesomeness of Phil Noto’s art, so I won’t labour the point too much here except to say that the character work is as strong as ever and that both Ghost and Past!Elisa are equally compelling — no easy feat, that. The layouts are straightforward but varied, and Noto gets the most out of a demonic double-page spread.
Meanwhile, the colouring comes to the forefront in this issue by helping to differentiate the flashbacks from present day (the latter are mostly in muted blues and reds, the former are as usual). Importantly, Noto knows when to break his own rules, and throw in a neon green panel to break things up, so it’s safe to say this this issue is visually interesting throughout.
And so, and while there’s nothing terribly exceptional or surprising happening in this third issue of “Ghost”, the writing and the art are rock-solid, building up a story that has been near-seamless in execution so far. It looks we have plenty to look forward to from our spectral heroine.
Final Verdict: 8.0 — Buy