Old Scores – Ghosted Volume 2: Books of the Dead

Jackson Winters is retired and he just wants to be left alone.  But with all great stories and all great protagonists, that can never be the case and trouble just has to come calling.  Just like a bad memory, it always comes back to bite him where he least expects it and it of course has to tie into the worst moment of his life, that of his failed Las Vegas job that got his entire team killed.  After the previous volume where he escaped the haunted house, not without the loss of his partner Anderson and defeating Markos, he finally thought he would be able to live a nice quiet life.  But even in the middle of nowhere, someone recognizes him and now with a chance to settle the score and put the past behind him, all he has to do is rescue Nina, the daughter of Wenona Bloodcrow.  The same woman he tried to rob all those years ago and where he failed more than spectacularly.

Joshua Williamson continues his supernatural/heist/caper tale in this second volume that continues not too long after the first and does so by getting better, if that can be imagined.  He ups the ante by not only having ghosts, but expands outward into ancient cults and other supernatural phenomena which makes not only this book, but the prospect of future volumes quite exciting.  He is aided this time by Davide Gianfelice, who is new to the book, with colourist Miroslav Mrva still on board and their work is thrilling to look at.  This go round, Jackson is still searching for freedom in a sense, this time from his past, for by letting it go and perhaps getting a small measure of closure, he can finally move forwards.  To do so he must overcome old ghosts and new and Williamson will not make it as easy for our hero.  If he can make a little money in the process, then all the better.

Speaking of Jackson Winters, he is not the usual kind of hero or protagonist one would expect to see which truth be told, is quite refreshing and innovative to see in a comic.  Jackson is a George Clooney-esque type of character, suave, cool and sophisticated, but one not afraid of getting his hands dirty if the task calls for it.  And while he might be those things, he is not a very likable character.  He does what he does for the benefit of himself and does not have any friends, just contacts and associates that he knows in the business so that he might complete whatever scheme he has in mind.  Trick might be the closest thing he does have to a real friend, and for those that get close, and those are few, he is loyal to them.  For all his swagger and attitude, his selfishness and everything else, you cannot help but root for him and be on his side.  He is the hero after all.

As previously stated the world building continues with Books of the Dead.  Instead of dipping one toe in the water like he did with the first volume, Williamson puts in all ten and opens the door for all sorts of possible jobs, heists and adventures.  We find out that Jackson already has multiple enemies from the past and that he cannot help but make some more in the process.  Aside from the usual ghosts, we get drug traffickers who deal in corrupted souls, a cult who makes Necronomicons, Aztec ruins, zombie animals, ancient deities/spirits, beautiful girls and even more ghosts.  Also, Jackson’s partner Anderson makes a return as a ghost who sometimes helps him out, but really only wants to see him die horribly to settle her own score.  She is one of the best things the author has added to the book and she makes for a truly inspired supporting character.

There are some particularly good moments in the book we are privy to like the first time Jackson enters the temple grounds and sees all the women living in pampered luxury instead of the slaves he expected.  There is also the matter of his past which we finally get to see as well as how it all went down and why Jackson is now a man that is haunted.  One of the funniest moments is when the action is thick and furious and he is about to be killed, our hero talks his way out of certain death from the Blood Crow spirit where almost anyone else would have been surely killed.  Jackson is a piece of work, but he is one dynamic and complex person that makes things extremely interesting page after page.

Joshua Williamson is turning out to be one of the best writers on the block these days with books like Captain Midnight, Nailbiter and this book, Ghosted.  He takes a fairly straight-up plot of a man out to rescue a girl and settle some old scores and injects it with enough excitement, suspense and numerous twists and turns to keep you hooked on every word of every panel.  With an ending that finds our hero in dire straits of an entirely different sort and the return of another enemy, the book and the writer knows how to keep you captivated and leave you hanging.  When you can be left infuriated over the ending of a story because you want to read more, you know you done your job and have done it well.  Bring on volume three!

4.5 out of 5

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