Indie Comics Spotlight: Ghost, Jungle Book, X-O Manowar


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Ghost #0

The paranormal reality show racket is a tough gig. You’re primarily selling a product to an audience that you can’t really prove exists because half the audience likely won’t believe it even if they saw it. Much like how Tommy and Vaughn don’t believe what they saw in Ghost #0 from Dark Horse.

Vaughn is a fired cameraman paired up with Tommy Byers, host of Phantom Finders. The two are desperately seeking viewers and Tommy has a box which he thinks will give them ghosts. The box works, but the two have no idea why, and it doesn’t work when they need it to, leading the pair to have a falling out. In a depressed, drunken stupor, Vaughn gets the box working again, only to find out the response will likely lead to more bad than good. Before they know it, they’re knee deep in ghosts, murder and shock.

Deconnick’s pacing in Ghost #0 is maintained fairly steadily as a straight and even-keeled story. It takes a while to build up, but once it does, the events get interesting in a hurry. There are some moments when things get a little out of control, but for the most part, it’s a calmer sort of story. Most interesting, obviously, is the ghost herself. She inserts herself into the lives of Vaughn and Tommy against their will and it will be interesting to see how the dynamic of the trio play out. The Phantom Finders have made it their goal to find out her name and place in life, which will likely lead to more dangerous scenarios.

Noto’s art is very minimalist, on par with the calmness of the story itself. Just about every panel is one character in front of a stark background. The ghost really seems to stand out the most, although it’s unclear if that’s by design or accident. There are some panels where Vaughn and Tommy look almost too similar, making it a little difficult to discern who’s doing what.

It’s looking like Ghost #0 is kicking off a whodunit of sorts. Following Vaughn and Tommy as they deal with both the actions of the ghost and reconciling their morality with their decisions will be interesting. It’s a book that will likely be a rollercoaster of intensity. Involving the supernatural has that effect.

Ghost #0 is written by Kelly Sue Deconnick, with art by Phil Noto and letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. It’s in stores September 19.

Jungle Book #5

The jungle is a wild place, rife with creatures both animal and human. The two species share something in common though: vengeance. In Jungle Book #5 from Zenescope Entertainment, Mowglii is the one seeking vengeance against Shere Khan.

Mowglii is on a mission to end what she thinks is the feud between Shere Khan and her wolf pack. Bomani is the best way to find the tigers, prompting Mowglii to follow him through the dense foliage until she comes face to face with her enemy.

For a five-issue arc, Miller managed to infuse enough of the classic Jungle Book tale into the comic that it felt like it paid proper respects. The art team of Granda and Buenaventura did a great job with the panels, colors and page layouts. The animals were depicted with great ferocity, which is what one would expect from jungle wildlife.

If the series was a little longer than five issues, they would’ve been able to show more of the humans interacting with one another. What’s shown instead is how they interact with the new environment around them, which I suppose is the ultimate point of the story.

Jungle Book #5 is available in stores now. The fifth and final issue is written by Mark Miller, with pencils by Carlos Granda, colors by Liezl Buenaventura and letters by Jim Campbell.

X-O Manowar #5

Being ripped from your time and taken aboard an alien spaceship is never easy. Being granted a phenomenal suit of armor for your troubles (even if it’s against your will) eases the shock a bit. Aric is mixing a little of both in X-O Manowar #5 from Valiant Comics.

It’s safe to say that Aric has gotten a handle on the suit of armor and its abilities. He’s come to terms with his place in the present day, still contending with multiple assailants having a go at stopping him. Needless to say it doesn’t work. Enter Ninjak. His role in this issue is brief, but it has a major impact on the storyline. Ninjak is the first opponent that can match Aric in terms of sheer combat ability. Oh and a secret about the Vine is revealed, giving them more credibility when it comes to fighting Aric on Earth.

First off, if you’re not reading X-O Manowar #5, you likely don’t like comics. Venditti’s story so far has been evenly paced, with great bits of action interspersed throughout. Second, making Aric out to be a master warrior in the armor is done very well, building up his ego and sense of being indestructible. That’s what makes Ninjak’s appearance that much better. Up to this point, just about everything has been thrown at Aric and he’s harmlessly deflected it. Ninjak is the first opponent who can actually hold his own against him. Having a character like that speaks volumes about Aric as a character and the dynamic between the two is just getting started. Their rivalry will make for some great storylines in future issues.

Good writing is nothing without good art and Garbett makes sure this issue has tons of great art. Aric is constantly equipping and unequipping the armor and Garbett does a great job depicting the transformation. The battles are actually illustrated in a way that makes you think Aric might not win every battle. That is, there’s a lot thrown at him, including missiles and grenades.

The series overall has been solid and the introduction of Ninjak makes it even better. Aric and Ninjak are slated for some quality battles against one another, all while the Vine continues to covet what Aric has become. The series is only getting better as it goes on and should deserve your attention.

X-O Manowar #5 is written by Robert Venditti, with pencils by Lee Garbett, inks by Stefano Gaudino, letters by Dave Lanphear and cover art by Mico Suayan, Philip Tan and Patrick Zircher. It’s in stores now.

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