Friday, May 3, 2024

Comics Review: "SPACE GHOST #1" Revives a Classic


STORY: David Pepose
ART: Jonathan Lau
COLORS: Andrew Dalhouse
LETTERS: Taylor Esposito
EDITOR: Joseph Rybandt
COVER: Francesco Mattina
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Jae Lee with June Chung; Bjorn Barends; Michael Cho; Alex Toth; Francesco Mattina
32pp, Color, $4.99 U.S. (May 2024)

Rated “Teen”

Space Ghost is a superhero character created by the American animation studio and production company, Hanna-Barbera Productions.  The character first appeared in the Saturday morning cartoon series, “Space Ghost,” which was originally broadcast on CBS from September 1966 to September 1967 for 20 episodes.  Space Ghost shared his television series with a second feature, entitled “Dino Boy in the Lost Valley.”  Space Ghost was designed by cartoonist and comic book artist, Alex Toth (1928-2006), who created the character with Hanna-Barbera's founders, William Hanna (1910-2001) and Joseph Barbera (1911-2006).

In his original incarnation, Space Ghost was a superhero whose base of operations was a small world known as “Ghost Planet.”  He fought super-villains in outer space with his teen sidekicks, Jan and Jace, and their monkey, Blip.  His main weapons were power bands he wore around his wrists and lower arms; the bands fired off multiple energy beam-based attacks, including heat, cold, and force, to name a few.  Space Ghost could also fly, survive in space, and turn invisible (his “Inviso Power”).  He also had a space ship known as “the Phantom Cruiser.”

Space Ghost sporadically appeared in various comic book publications over a fifty year period.  Dynamite Entertainment has just launched a new Space Ghost comic book as part of its licensing agreement with Warner Bros.  Entitled Space Ghost Volume 1, it is written by David Pepose; drawn by Jonathan Lau; colored by Andrew Dalhouse; and lettered by Taylor Esposito.

Space Ghost Volume 1 #1 opens on Space Colony Omnicron.  It is the home of brilliant scientist, Doctor Jarrod Keplar, and his children – a pair of twins – Jan (a girl) and Jace (a boy).  Now, Omnicron is suffering a surprise attack at the hands of space pirates.  Dr. Keplar is planning to escape with his children and their pet monkey, Blip, who is more than he seems.

The colony's defenses are overwhelmed, however, and when tragedy strikes the Keplar family, all seems lost.  Yet these ruthless pirates did not count on a wild card – the cosmic vigilante known as “the Space Ghost.”  This almost folkloric figure metes out justice throughout the galaxy and brings vengeance to those who prey upon the defenseless.  But can even this phantom save this day?

THE LOWDOWN:  Since July 2021, Dynamite Entertainment's marketing department has been providing me with PDF review copies of some of their titles.  Space Ghost Volume 1 #1 is the latest, but it is not the first Space Ghost comic book that I have read.

As far as I'm concerned, there have never been enough Space Ghost comic book series.  His last comic book appearances before now were DC Comics' Future Quest maxi-series and Future Quest Presents #1 (DC Comics), I believe.  So I'm happy about this new series.  This first issue is about re-introductions of classic characters and introductions of their new versions.  This first chapter is a little chaotic and a little thin on plot.  Still, it's fun to see Space Ghost in action, and even more fun to see Jan and Jace take a more proactive part in the combat than they have in the past.

Jonathan Lau's illustrations and Andrew Dalhouse's colors make for a gritty narrative, which I'll accept.  I prefer that Space Ghost comics mimic the slick and technically proficient design style of the artist who first visualized the world of Space Ghost, the late Alex Toth.  Still, the darker and rougher graphical storytelling style here may indeed work in selling this newer vision of Space Ghost.

I highly recommend Space Ghost Volume 1 #1.  It is a first issue well worth many American dollars, dear readers.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Dynamite Entertainment's Warner Bros. comic book series will want to read Space Ghost Volume 1.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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