Casper and the Spectrals #1 (Ardden Entertainment – Dezago / Delgado / Oats)
Just in time for Casper’s 60th anniversary, Ardden Entertainment proudly debuts Casper And The Supernaturals, an all-new take on the world’s most famous ghost and his two friends, Wendy the Witch and Hot Stuff! There is a city within New York City known as Spooky Town, but most humans are unable to see it. Within this city live the Supernaturals, the ghosts, goblins, demons and witches of the world. When an ancient entity known only as the Volbragg threatens both New York and Spooky Town, Casper and his friends are forced to band together and defeat an unimaginable evil!
I can’t imagine it was easy updating a half century old character that was designed for a different generation of youngster and making it relevant and interesting for a twenty first century audience, but Tood Dezago does a pretty good job!
Todd Dezago (Spider-Man, Perhapanauts) updates Casper and the whole cast. One of the first noticeable things is that Dezago has moved from the traditional “one to two page story” and having an issue filled with smaller tales to whole issue stories and arcs (not unlike Boom!’s take on the Disney books). The second is that he has fleshed out these supernatural characters more than perhaps 30 years of Harvey Animation was able to do. More than just the fact that he is different, being a friendly ghost, this book explores the why of Casper’s personality and why his ghostly brothers are so bent on getting scares. We have similar arcs that deal with both Wendy and Hot Stuff, and a full blown look at the supernatural landscape beneath New York. Also introduced is a antagonist new to the mythology, a Victorian dictator / warlock who wants to rule Spooky Town.
Part of the successful update is the look of the characters, the art team has clearly made these mainstays ready for 2009 from the spiked-belt wearing skateboarder-looking Hot Stuff to the slightly gothy-ish stocking and mascara look of Wendy. The feel and look of the characters and the environment bring positive strokes to this revamp, which I think could lead to a full blown revitalization.
While the look and stories have slickly been brought to the present, rest assured that this book is still designed for kids. Now I would say the target age for the story has gone from 6 (back in the day) to maybe 10-12 with the themes and details weighing more towards the pre-teen.
Ardden’s take on Casper and his friends is well worth a look!
Issue Grade: A
Pullbox warning: While I believe the content and intent of the book to be very family friendly, the entire story is very supernatural based. If this is a factor for you, please take into consideration.