• The Ghoul: Treasury Edition

    The Ghoul: Treasury Edition
    Published by: IDW Publishing
    Published on: December 17th, 2014.
    Written by: Steve Niles
    Art by: Bernie Wrightson
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    Published by IDW, The Ghoul: Treasury Edition reprints in oversized black and white format the three issue mini-series that was originally published as a full color run in 2009. These two have done fine work together over the last few years with titles like Dead, She Said and Doc Macabre and their collaboration on The Ghoul is just as strong as those other two projects.

    The story begins when The Ghoul arrives under cover of the night at a Los Angeles airport, as put together by the F.B.S.I. (Federal Bureau of Supernatural Investigation) and Lt. Lloyd Klimpt of the Los Angeles Police Department. Klimpt shows up alone, with a U-Haul, to transport the hulking special agent into the city where they need his help solving a crime. Klimpt explains to The Ghoul the events of the case: a famous family of Hollywood A-listers, the Atwoods. The Ghoul is familiar with the latest actress from the family, Ester Atwood, but only vaguely familiar with her mother Doris and not familiar at all with her grandmother, Polly. They head to Klimpt’s house where he uses a series of photographs to try to convince The Ghoul of his theory – that all three Atwood women are actually one and the same. He’s got some ideas to back this up too, given that each woman died exactly one year after the next was born, meaning that there couldn’t possibly be photos of all three of them together at the same time.

    The Ghoul will help Klimpt try to sort this out, but not before dealing with some demons. See, he’s arrived on Walpurgisnacht and bad things always go down on the devil’s night. They hit up a gun shop located in the back of a porno shop and after a man with a hook for an arm gets them the firepower they need, they head to an observatory. Along the way The Ghoul talks about the Atwoods, but he’s not sure what’s up with them. Possibly a deal with the devil? When they arrive at the observatory the cops are already there but some sort of supernatural force field is preventing them from getting in. As they try and figure out how to get in, The Ghoul’s old friend Doc Macabre shows up to help them get in, and then he splits. He’s got his own mission to attend to. Once they’re in, Klimpt finds out that the demons The Ghoul mentioned are very real indeed. The Ghoul figures if the Atwood case does have a supernatural element, then questioning one of these demons might give them the clues they need to really get started on it – and sure enough, one of the demons, under threat, let’s slip a connection to ‘the dead detective.’ They find him, a shambling living corpse named Coogan, and he tells them that Atwood is ‘in league with shit that would make Satan crap his pants.’ He gives them her address and sends them on their way. They arrive and let themselves in… and what they find is actually pretty messed up.

    Niles writes this one partly like a horror story and partly like an old pulp paperback, weaving a film noir influence into things but never shorting on the monster action. It makes for a fun read. The Ghoul is a tough talking, wisecracking character, a hulking behemoth of a man-monster but not someone without a sense of humor. The story does a good job of making the back and forth between he and Klimpt amusing and pretty much all of the story’s humor stems from that aspect of it. The mystery element of things is shortchanged a bit, but we’re not here for ‘deep’ we’re here for entertainment and on that level Niles’ work here definitely delivers. The premise definitely borrows from Mignola's Hellboy (it's hard not to notice this) a fair bit but otherwise, this is a good read.

    As far as the artwork goes, it’s Bernie Wrightson and for a lot of fans just seeing his name attached to this will be reason enough to want to pick it up. His work here is excellent, some of his best in recent years, and as is typical of his style, he crams loads of detail into every panel. He brings Niles’ shadowy world of weirdos and monsters to life with style, going heavy on the inks and using a lot of thick line work and thinner, more detailed highlights to create some really grotesquely fantastic images. Those enamored with the man’s artwork will appreciate seeing it in oversized black and white here – it really is very impressive. On top of that IDW have included a gallery of full page illustrations related to The Ghoul and Doc Macabre to ogle too. This is fun stuff, highly recommended to monster fans and those who enjoy a good horror comic with healthy doses of humor.