If you could
compile a list of things I never thought I’d ever review
for this column, it would include a comic book version of
Space Ghost. Sure, I remember the cartoon reruns from the
1980s, not to mention the infinitely better and much funnier
Coast-to-Coast that Cartoon Network cobbled together
and ran for a decade, but never did I think the man the titanium
white body stocking would ever grace the pages of a comic.
a fair amount of drinking over at DC, someone greenlit Joe
(Wildcats 3.0, JLA) Kelly and Ariel (JLA: Haven)
Olivetti to put together a little miniseries that explains
the origins of this already obscure hero; to top it all
off, Alex Ross signed on to do the covers for the book.
With such an array of talent, one is really only left with
Dear god why?
don’t know why this comic was made or why Kelly felt
the urge to write it. The reasons seem to stem, at least
for Kelly, from the fact that Alex Toth, master animator
and lauded comic book artist, did the original design for
Space Ghost. Toth had worked in comics after graduating
high school, working at companies like DC and Dell, as well
as working for and designing Hanna-Barbera’s Super
Friends cartoon. He is, without doubt, an invariably
influential figure in comic book and animation history.
But is his mere relation to the character enough reason
to justify this comic book? I do not think so.
the creators are shooting for must be nostalgia comics,
which is something we’re all intimately familiar with
thanks to the 1980s revival projects like G.I. Joe
that came out in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.
But I severely question this goal, since nothing about the
comic book plays to the nostalgia. The artwork by Olivetti
is as far removed from Toth’s clean lines and rounded
figures as you can get. Olivetti over-exaggerates musculature,
creating a book populated by hulking masses of muscle, especially
his main character. Space Ghost’s original design
was sleeker, suggesting his stealthy tactics and his speed.
The flying chunk of bicep that Olivetti designs in no way
references the style of Toth, so it seems unlikely that
Toth lovers would be drawn to this book.
those who might have watched Space Ghost as a child,
well, the cartoon wasn’t something that stood out
all that much when compared to other cartoons of its day.
Sure, I caught some reruns in the 1980s growing up, but
its big boom time was the two years the series had in the
1960s and the larger syndication it saw in the 1970s. Already,
the nostalgic crowd that might be drawn to this work are
anywhere from 30 to nearly 50 years old.
there is a glut of readers of this age bracket, the story
the Kelly concocts as origin is not overly true to the stories
of the originals. The original cartoons were high space-faring
adventure, given levity by an incredibly annoying, but apparently
required for any Hanna-Barbara cartoon, pet monkey. Kelly’s
story is about pain and anguish and the death of a man’s
soul and its subsequent rebirth. It’s not the same
character that they were watching.
story also isn’t overly original. The entire first
act would seem stolen from Training Day, save for
things don’t end up happy for Space Ghost the way
it did for Ethan Hawke. From then on, it’s just a
story, with predictable plotting and one-dimensional characters.
The addition of characters from the show (Zorak, Jan and
Jace) is nice, but they add nothing to the story.
isn’t even a character; the artwork by Olivetti is
too indistinct when depicting the Zorathians to tell one
bug creature from another, and Kelly has somehow made “Zorak”
a concept more than an actual name, because of some poorly
explained hive mentality. Jan and Jace are wedged into the
story so that there might be an emotional moment or two,
but ultimately they’re just there to be rescued.
Kelly makes the case for the story in his
introduction, citing that Space Ghost never really had an
origin. In response, I would ask why this story needs to
be told in the first place. I can’t think of anyone
who burned at the thought of never knowing what truly lurked
behind that black cowl and yellow cape, and for all the
reasons listed above, I can’t imagine anyone wanting
to find out. It’s just a bad treatment of a character
and a story that could easily have stayed within the realms
of television and not ventured into comicdom.
seems to enjoy the work he did on it, but I can’t
agree. While he tries to keep some of the elements that
arose from the cartoon, he throws out everything else and
never really fills it in with a good story. Olivetti’s
artwork is just wrong for the book and the character and
it seems that Alex Ross comes the closest to Toth with his
cover renditions, though even Ross is off. For $14.99, there
are better comics to buy with stories that are better and
timelier than this one. The only saving grace is that Kelly
never added in that stupid monkey in a mask. May Blip and
Gleep both find their simian paths leading them into a meat