The Ghoul #1 (IDW Publishing)

This supernatural detective story offers an interesting premise but not quite enough bang for the buck.




24 pgs. FC; $3.99
(W: Steve Niles; A: Bernie Wrightson)
I guess the new Steve “30 Days of Night” Niles/Bernie “Frankenstein” Wrightson collaboration for IDW, The Ghoul, could turn into something special, but the first issue doesn’t exactly get things started with a bang. There are no splash pages here to showcase what Wrightson is really capable of, and the mystery that Niles lays out is less than intriguing at this point.
The supernatural-detective tale introduces the titular “Ghoul,” an eight-foot tall, 1,000-lb. Frankenstein’s monster-type. He handles occult mysteries as a detective/enforcer. The narrator, another detective, has called him in to help investigate the case of a family of actresses who don’t really seem to age. The first issue gives us the bare bones of the plot, with no “action” to speak of.
Cramming the Ghoul’s massive frame into a U-Haul, because he’s too big for a car, makes for some amusing visuals. He has to slide open the window between the cab and the trailer to talk to his partner. Other than that touch, I was bored with the read.
Also, I was truly surprised that the comic was 13 pages, followed by a 5 page textual story by Niles, and no less than 11 pages of ads. No killer, all filler. Did somebody miss a deadline or something? For four bucks an issue, I think most of us expect a bit more. To be fair, the non-graphic story provided context for the comic, had a tantalizing-tease ending, and is expected to be continued in future issues, but I got on this ride for a comic, not straight fiction.
The Ghoul is territory that has been mined, in one way or another, many times before. There’s Kolchak, Dr. Strange, The Dresden Files, The Damned, and gobs more. So the conceit of a hard-boiled private eye battling vampires and demons is interesting, maybe, but not exactly novel. The jury is out on whether this one will prove to be a feather in Niles’ cap and a credit to Wrighston’s legendary pencil, or just fodder for the closeout longbox at the comix shoppe. | Byron Kerman

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