Posts Tagged ‘Ghosted’

Joshua Williamson returns to talk about all things Ghosted! There will be spoilers for the entirety of the book so beware and be warned!

 

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Sam is joined by her friend Miguel for a rousing conversation with Joshua Williamson, writer of Ghosted, Captain Midnight, and Nailbiter.

Ghosted begins its latest arc by bringing back the past. Not only does Oliver King, the skeptic turned believer of the first arc return, but we also get the notorious white room last seen in the Trask Mansion, plus a new character with an unexpected connection to Jackson’s deceased friend. While this set-up seems all well and good for Ghosted, Jackson is the wildcard for ghosted_12the first time. His involvement in previous heists were either through coercion or…nope, pretty much everything after the Spirit Casino debacle has been about coercion. This time though, Jackson is all out of fucks to give as the government tries to recruit him for a new mission that further expands the supernatural world of Ghosted.

Starting almost immediately after the events with the Brotherhood of the Closed Book and the appearance of King with the FBI, Jackson and Nina Bloodcrow are released from prison so King can introduce them to Agent Creed. Jackson is of particular interest to Creed. He seems to know everything about him (including what happened in New Orleans, which I’m sure we’ll find out about in the future) and he wants to “offer him a job” going after the proliferation of ghosts and spirits that have come out of the woodwork for reasons that appear to be unexplained. Jackson, however, is having none of it. He could care less about what’s happening outside of his personal bubble of anger and guilt and the alternative options of prison or death sound better than helping the feds. It isn’t until Creed reveals the man who may be involved in the recent uptick in spiritual activity is the late Trick’s son and introduces Jackson to his “fan” that the con man is finally interested in what Creed has to say.

What continues to impress me about Ghosted are the many ways in which the supernatural is treated and interpreted. It’s like a check list of horror cliches only Joshua Williamson manages to make them feel fresh within the context of the world he’s created. Haunted mansion? Check. Cults and possession? Got it! Rednecks dealing in candles made of virgin blood? Ch – okay, that’s not on the list, but it oughta be! The success of these scenarios, however, is how they’re filtered through Jackson and his involvement. He’s the connecting thread but with the beginning of this new arc, we’re seeing him begin to unravel. Thematically, Ghosted has its roots in the idea of the past haunting us in ways we can’t expect. The bookends of this issue illustrate that perfectly. A woman’s stalker kills himself and while the woman is happy to move on with her life, the ghost of R2nDrEx-ghosted_12_3the stalker lingers, hovering around her and letting her know that she’s not as free of him as she thought. Jackson has a similar predicament, but his demons are less visible to the naked eye. Instead, he literally bears the scars of his haunted past, one that everyone wants to exploit to get him to do their dirty work. The loss of Trick, however, has affected Jackson tremendously. If he had even a tenuous hold on staying alive, Trick’s death has finally pushed Jackson to the breaking point. His previous attempts at goading people into killing him seem trivial compared to the anger-induced provocation of Creed when the man has a gun pointed at him. The only person keeping him somewhat anchored is Nina.

Once again, Davide Gianfelice’s art works so well within the world of Ghosted. The sketch-like quality of his art instills movement in scenes that could easily look static. Like the previous arc, Gianfelice handles the horror with a deft hand, making spirits and possessed people look grotesque yet intriguing at the same time. The ghost of the stalker is especially chilling due to the minimal dialogue as the young woman goes about her nightly routine all while the deceased hovers nearby, his blank expression made all the creepier by the gaping would in his skull. The colors from Miroslav Mrva present an interesting contrast between the living world and the dead. For most of the issue, the colors are brighter, even in the prison facility where Jackson and Nina are being held, but when a ghost is featured in a scene they’re marked by a noticeable color shift that draws the eye immediately. It’s a fantastic way of highlighting the combined efforts of writer, artist, and colorist.

Final Thoughts: New story + new characters = a very excited Sam!

ghosted-06This article was originally posted at Word of the Nerd on January 15th.

Just when Jackson Winters thinks he’s out of the game, living the good life, the life that he left behind pulls him back into the fold. Yes, Ghosted is back and the sins of Jackson’s past are creeping up on him once again, both figuratively and literally.

Enjoying the fruits of his labors after delivering the ghosts of the Trask Mansion to Markus Schrecken, Jackson is unfortunately discovered by an informant for the people who own the casino his original crew tried to rob. Seeing his brief stint at normalcy blown straight to hell, with a few extra bullet holes in the chest for good measure, Jackson and Trick – the entertainingly knowledgeable black market fencer and magician – find themselves roped into another job on behalf of the casino owner, Wenona Blood Crow. In order to wipe the slate clean once and for all, Jackson has to rescue Wenona’s granddaughter, Nina, from kidnappers who’ve taken the girl across the border to Mexico. And while it’s possible that Wenona could have easily hired someone else to rescue Nina and have Jackson killed by her family’s personal hitman, Skinner, it seems the kidnappers took Nina for a reason and it happens to be in Jackson’s particular area of expertise.

In the return of Ghosted, Joshua Williamson doesn’t hold back, putting Jackson right in the middle of the action, but not before giving us a rather disturbing opening involving an elderly performing a ritual involving dolls dressed as Jackson hanging from nooses and pictures of Jackson decorating the walls splashed with bat’s blood. It’s a fantastic reminder of the curse Jackson carries; seemingly blessed to live in the face of supernatural circumstances where others often perish. It doesn’t mean the man isn’t marked for the rest of the afterlife. Jackson’s no saint and his experiences with the otherworldly may have done more to stack the deck against him if his dream sequence later on is any indication of what his eternal resting place will look like. I will admit, though, Jackson’s reaction to his hallucinatory revisiting of the last arc was pretty great. Good to know the man’s sense of humor always remains intact. Skinner and Wenona are great additions to Ghosted‘s cast of characters. Whereas Ghosted6_col_page_02-03Markus Schrecken was an employer who needed Jackson solely for his skills, the history between Jackson and the two adds another level of tension to the story. Skinner proves he’s not afraid to solve his problems by riddling them with bullets, so it’ll be interesting to see if he tags along with Jackson and Trick on their trip to Mexico. Feels like his presence would make for great motivation.

The art for Ghosted #6 changes as Davide Gianfelice takes over and it couldn’t be a better fit. The illustrative quality is gorgeous and the look of the characters and environments has an air of the mod style Jackson is so fond of emulating. Something about the lining on the cheekbones and chin that reminds me of Darwyn Cooke’s style, which matches up with Jackson and his world perfectly. Whereas the previous arc with Goran Suduka had a grittier and slightly gothic sensibility befitting of the setting and premise, Gianfelice’s art is more cinematic, making the next chapter reminiscent of a movie sequel. Like Sudzuka before him, Gianfelice knocks it out of the park when it comes to the grotesque. If the opening isn’t enough to give you the heebie jeebies, then I’m pretty sure the last page will.

Rating – 10/10

Final Thoughts: Woo hoo! Trip to Mexico, guys! Can’t wait!

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This was previously posted at Word of the Nerd on November 6th.

Heist stories are difficult to pull off effectively. We’re essentially rooting for the bad guys, even if the narrative frames them as the good guys. They just happen to be the lesser of two evils. It’s also not enough to have a goal and a team, there have to be enough twists and turns in the story for the payoff at the end. If everything goes according to plan, then what’s the point, but if nothing works out, then it’s a ticking clock until everybody either dies or gets arrested. We want the team to succeed, but we also need them to earn their reward. In order to do that, plans need to go awry, betrayals need to happen, and actions have to be taken so the audience can feel how high the stakes are for these people should they fail. In Ghosted #5 Joshua Williamson manages to get everything right about the climax of a heist story while upping the ante with the ultimate payoff.

With the Ghost Hunter/Adventure red shirts dead and the rest of the currently-living members of the team trapped in the Trask Mansion, Jackson confronts Anderson about her loyalty to their mutual employer, Markus, whom Anderson is intent on delivering the still possessed Trick to because Markus, long ago, saved her from the Eastern European slave trade. Why? Because she reminded him of his sister, though Jackson knows for a fact Anderson hardly resembles her. Desperate to get out, Anderson figures she can offer a new ghost to the house in exchange for Trick, stabbing Jackson in the back – the least subtle place one can stab another person. With Jackson bleeding out on the floor, King suggests Rusnak make contact with the spirits since it may be their only way out. Donning the spiritually amplified mask, Rusnak finally makes contact and reveals the true secret of the house. As it turns out, Markus is the sole living member of the Trask family, sacrificing his sister’s life so he could live forever on the condition that the mansion remain haunted. Capturing the ghost was the only way Markus’ curse could remain intact. While this hardly fazes Anderson, Jackson plays his trump card when Rusnak, the psychic, switches sides and helps Jackson implement his plan. To go any further is venturing into way too many spoilers, but it’s a good plan, one that would make Danny Ocean proud. Ya know, if he was involved in a heist involving haunted mansion, ghosts, and immortal murderers.

Turning the TablesWilliamson’s story really shines when it’s delving into Jackson’s methodology and psyche. He’s always the man with the plan, the guy capable of seeing the bigger picture, bringing the right group of people together to accomplish the task at hand. Being a good planner, however, doesn’t mean he remotely cares about the actual people he involves in his endeavors. The death of his team prior to the events of Ghosted, the botched job that left him the sole survivor of a horrific ordeal and got him sent to prison, forever changed his perspective, making him a man forever haunted by his own actions. In the aftermath, he now cares if the people on his team live or die, even Anderson, which is why he goes to great lengths to convince her to betray Markus. In a way, he was trying to give her an out even if he knew she probably wouldn’t budge. You could say his actions were noble, but I’ sure even Jackson would say he just needed to be sure where she stood before committing to his plan. I do love the very subtle way Williamson and Goran Sudzuka visually shift the power play between Jackson and Anderson. When Anderson stabs Jackson, his hair gets mussed up to reflect the scattered state of his plan and their situation. However, when Jackson turns the tables on Anderson, the panel shows him slicking his hair back, returning it to the sleek, debonaire style indicative of his Sinatra-like persona. It’s well done and perfectly captures the moment in any heist movie where the whole plan is revealed. The book may lack the space to backtrack, but the explanation given and the events that follow pack the right punch narratively and tonally. It helps that Sudzuka’s ghosts are creepy as all get out.

Final Thoughts: If the next arc is what I think it is, Jackson will never be able to rest in peace.

The trade paperback for Ghosted Vol. 1, collecting issues #1-5, is available for pre-order and will be released in December.