Full disclosure now: I haven’t read any titles involving the character before, so I can’t really comment on how similar anything here is to previous incarnations of the character and series. It doesn’t seem heavily rooted in existing mythology, though, so new readers can find an easy jumping-on point here.
Vaughn Barnes is a former journalist who’s been relegated to being the cameraman for yet another ghost-hunting TV show, Phantom Finders. The show’s host, Tommy Byers, has acquired a new piece of equipment which, somehow, summons a transparent, white-clad woman: the Ghost. She can pass through solid matter and is terribly mysterious. As you might expect, events conspire to put Tommy and Vaughn in a difficult situation to which this mysterious woman might be the key.
The concept is fine, but the execution is lacking. I can see how the Ghost (or is it just Ghost?) works as a superheroine, but she is a very quiet protagonist. This works well some of the time – Noto gives her expressions this ominous intensity – but both of the male leads are grating. Vaughn, who also narrates the story, is clearly depressed, but not in any compelling fashion; Tommy, meanwhile, feels completely artificial, and though the story attempts to redeem him, it falls short of doing so.
This story missed an opportunity in that it didn’t do more with the Phantom Finders angle. At this point the “ghost-hunting show stumbles upon something actually paranormal” is a bit contrived, but as long as it is here, I wish it were used for something. The premise could have produced a paranormal mystery for Ghost and the boys to solve, but Phantom Finders is forgotten after half a dozen pages. Other than the Ghost herself, there is nothing paranormal in this story. Within the few pages that deal with ghost-hunting, it feels like DeConnick has never seen one of these shows or knows much about the paranormal. That makes the decision to put two of the leads on such a show feel not like a well-thought-out narrative choice, but a cheap attention grabber or a lazy joke. People like ghost shows, right? Compared to some of her other recent work, I feel like DeConnick sort of phoned this script in.
Ghost #0 is competent, but not outstanding. On its own, it is hard to recommend, though there is enough talent involved that the series that follows it may well be worth a look. Some of the ideas are there, and the promise of exploring the Ghost’s past is tempting, but there are better paranormal-centric books out there right now.