REVIEW: Ghost Projekt #5

Ghost Projekt is a book that was just getting started as it ended with this month’s issue number 5. A quick recap: American weapons inspector Will Haley is in western Siberia, investigating Soviet-era arms sites, as honest-to-God weaponized ghosts are on the loose in modern-day Russia. With the help of stoic Russian cop Anya Romanova, Will tries to contain the threat, discover where it came from, and find the project’s mastermind, the crazy hypnotist, Dr. Konstantin. Joe Harris’s script is packed with all manner of alleys and avenues that have the potential to spin off into further stories, but sadly, his five issues only really had room for the one.

In the final issue, Will and Anya track down the quite mad Dr. Konstantin and learn the origins of the mysterious, twisted science program that created a Mongolian murder ghost—which is kind of awesome. The story’s not as arch as I’ve described it—Harris has his characters dealing with the modern fallout of a Soviet regime that was going nuts towards the end, in ways that scarred the nation and even the normally icy Oparativnik Anya.

Harris more or less threads the needle with the challenge of a story of this type: he tries to keep the characters grounded so that the situations in which they find themselves don’t come across as ridiculous. Will and Anya make an interesting pair, the story not really taking any pains to press them together as romantic co-leads. They just happen to be two people good at their jobs: he, a person particularly adept as sniffing out loose weapons, and her, someone particularly good at brutalizing people for information. Dr. Konstantin is the weak link in the story—a Dr. Mabuse with super hypno-powers, much too out-sized for a plot that already has a jet-black Mongol phantom wreaking havoc on the streets of the Russian frontier towns. It takes you out of the story when you begin questioning how an obvious maniac like Dr. Konstantin would ever be able to gain any sort of position of authority, much less one mingling the supernatural and super science.

Still, on balance, there’s more that works about the story than does not.

What works especially well is the art by the excellent Steve Rolston (Queen and Country, Mek), whose button-nosed, slightly stylized characters don’t prepare you for the gallons of bloodshed to come. In particular, Rolston is adept at rendering the black specter in both its smoke-like and solid forms. The book is a must-have for the image of the horseman going sickhouse on the armed militiamen, more than anything else.

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