- The Black Ghost #2
- New Wave Comics & ComiXology Originals
- Written by Alex Segura & Monica Gallagher
- Art by George Kambadais
- Colors by Ellie Wright
- Letters & Design by Taylor Esposito (Ghost Glyph Studios)
- Cover by Francesco Francavilla
Lara Dominguez, still reeling from the conclusion of last issue, falls into bad habits- drinking and avoiding what’s happening around her. But there are forces in Creighton that won’t rest until Lara faces her destiny, whether she wants to or not, leaving the journalist’s professional life in disarray.
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As a journalist, Lara Dominguez knows better than anyone that you go where the story takes you. That simple truth was driven home on the same night that she saw her hero/obsession, the Black Ghost, in action. It was also the night that harsh truth was driven home: Even the hero can fall. There to witness the death of the Black Ghost at the hands of a ruthless gang of criminals, Lara is left with a pretty big question…
Her instincts tell her to cut and run, but for some reason that option doesn’t come as easily as it has in the past. The fight against the city’s corruption may have claimed the life of the Black Ghost, but Lara is conflicted. Without the lone vigilante to keep violence from overtaking the streets of Creighton, who’s left to keep the city from tearing itself apart? Aside from all that altruistic nonsense, there’s a still a big damn story to be told.
The Black Ghost is dead. Long live The Black Ghost.
In a market where all of the really cool kids can fly, shrug off bullets, and bench press a locomotive, I’ve always been more partial to the gritty heroes, thwarting muggers and pushers in back alleys. The Shadow. Daredevil. Batman. Green Arrow. Stalking the streets at night with nothing but skill, intellect, & maybe a trick or two to keep them perched on the razor’s edge, those have always been the stories that sucked me in and kept me coming back. Maybe it’s that shadowy edge to the themes, the idea of a lone individual taking it upon themselves & stepping outside of a corrupt or faulty system to hold the line against all odds. Could it be the psychology of the character, digging deep into what it takes to forge oneself into a hero? Is it the burning question… what would it take to drive an ordinary person to such extreme measures?
Or it might just be that they’ve got the coolest looking costumes and kick all of the asses.
I dunno what it is, maybe a combination of everything, but whatever it is about these stories that draws me in and keeps me there, Alex Segura and Monica Gallagher have got it. The story of Lara Dominguez isn’t about her answering the call and taking up the mantle of a fallen hero. It’s about a woman constantly fighting against her nature. Her decisions are all about chaos, and she knows it but can’t quite help herself. At the first hint of trouble, she runs right to the bottle and indulges in questionable “interpersonal relationships”. Segura & Gallagher give us a very flawed protagonist who’s struggling against what she knows she needs to do. What makes Lara’s story readable is a great use of inner monologue. It’s that often used- but not always this effectively- ploy in pulp noir fiction that totally makes up for the fact that we’re two issues in and have yet to see what we all know is coming… Lara taking up the mantle of the Black Ghost!
Hey, Alex and Monica, you guys take your time on this one… so far, Lara’s a character worth getting to know. There’ll be time to get to the other stuff.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the equation of comicbook creation, the artistic team of George Kambadais & Ellie Wright is carrying their share of the load. Kambadais uses every bit of real estate he can squeeze out of a page, sometimes in the traditional panel layout, sometimes in a less restrained, more haphazard fashion. Most notably in a scene filled with alcohol fueled flashbacks, he lets the story meander its way across the page in a style that looks more like a steam of consciousness than a comicbook layout. Then Ellie Wright comes along and fills in Kambadais’ pictures with a color palette that’s heavy on the shadows and contrasts. Wright takes on a book that could have worked very well as a black and white, and does it in a manner that doesn’t lessen any of the drama by using bright colors. No rainbow pastels here, folks. Even where reds or yellows are used, mainly in the backgrounds, Wright mutes them just enough to emphasize the mood and maintain the story’s attitude.
The Black Ghost takes the kind of comicbook story your dad or granddad might’ve read as a kid… Men of Mystery taking to the streets at night and delivering an order of justice with a side of knuckles to wrongdoers everywhere… and brings it into the modern era with a dose of social relevance and less corny dialogue (not a GADZOOKS! or a GOLLY! to be found).
There are going to be those who turn their noses up at the idea of using a comicbook app, protesting that you can’t “collect” digital comics. Speaking as an old guy who already has more than a few dusty longboxes than he has room for, ComiXology really makes reading comics easy. And their growing line of Originals (available to read for free if you indulge in their Unlimited service) will guarantee that you’re never going to have trouble finding something that catches your interest. Sure, collectors are going to look down on the concept from their very lofty places… but isn’t reading the comics why we started collecting the comics in the first place?
Final Score: 10+