View Full Version : The Ghoul (IDW)

12-09-2010, 08:03 PM
This didn't belong in any of the subforums, so I'm putting it here. This is, I suppose, technically a graphic novel, written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson. About a third of the volume is taken up by a prose story, accented with some Wrightson sketches.

The Good: Bernie Wrightson! He's still got it. He's not drawing in the hyper-detailed style he used on his famous illustrated Frankenstein, but rather a relatively spare, moody style that evokes both the EC horror comics of the Golden Age and some of the darker comics of the 80s and 90s (Sandman, DKR, Hellblazer, etc.). Tom Smith's colors work well with the inks, though they seem as though he couldn't decide between a simplified, 80s style rendering and a more modern, fully-rendered style. The book is nicely packaged in hardcover, too, with a distressed look that could easily come off as gimmicky but is subtle enough not to be annoying.

The Bad: The story is forced, predictable, and soft. The title character is a gray-skinned, undead-ish behemoth who works for the supernatural version of the FBI. He is called in by an uptight LAPD detective to help solve the case of a lineage of actresses who seem to actually all be the same woman. How this constitutes a crime is not explained, but don't worry, the lady turns out to be a murderous eldritch horror who cheated Satan, so it turns out they were right to pursue her.

Along the way, the pair also break up a bloody demonic festival, just in passing. They kill a few demons and force one of the others to give them a clue to the case ('cause, as the Ghoul explains, all evil things are interconnected and know what the others are doing). Then they let the remainder go, despite the fact that they had murdered a number of citizens.

They meet two other supernatural investigators along the way- whiz-kid demon hunter Doctor Macabre and self-explanatory Dead Detective- who seem to have been shoe-horned into the story because the writer couldn't bear to leave them out. Actually, most of the plot points read this way. There's also the obligatory guy-who-makes-badass-weapons-for-the-hero character, who's named Jones because the writer figured he had to be called something. It seems that the characters are being introduced for further use, but I don't know if this is a continuing series. There is an ad in the back for a spinoff featuring the Dead Detective when he was just a regular live detective.

Conclusion: The whole thing feels like a bland Hellboy knock-off, with maybe a bit of Preacher thrown in. Wrightson's talent is wasted on such insipid material.