Comics, Reviews

Ghost Machine #1 Review: A Bold First Step

Step into the world of Ghost Machine, the new Image Comics imprint created by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Bryan Hitch, and more.

Ghost Machine #1 Review Cover
Image: Ghost Machine
By: Javier ReyesFeb 23, 2024, 2:06 AM

Ghost Machine #1

Review
Rating
8
Good
Ghost Machine #1 Full Cover

Writer: Geoff Johns, Brad Meltzer, Lamont Magee, Peter J. Tomasi, Maytal Zchut

Artist: Gary Frank, Bryan Hitch, Jason Fabok, Francis Manapul, Ivan Reis, Peter Snejbjerg

Publisher: Ghost Machine

Release Date: January 23, 2024

Page Count: 64

Format: Single-issue

To kick off the bold new imprint, Geoff Johns and crew offer up a variety of previews of Ghost Machine’s upcoming comics in one tightly packed, 64-page one-shot. With stories that have everything from strange superheroes to unsettling horror, there’s plenty to be excited about in this ambitious comic book universe.

Over the last few years, beloved DC writer Geoff Johns has shifted his focus to his creator-owned titles at Image Comics, such as the miniseries Geiger and Junkyard Joe. With their strange powers and origins, the characters felt familiar to the writer’s superhero roots but with a bold and fresh direction. We’re finally seeing the culmination of his creative work with the newly announced Image imprint called Ghost Machine. Alongside heavyweight creators like Bryan Hitch, Gary Frank, Francis Manupul, Ivan Reis, and more, Johns has put together a whos-who collective of creative minds to make new and exciting comics. The ambitious project makes its grand debut with a 64-page primer to get readers up to speed for the coming adventures. Does it live up to all the hype? Read on for my review of Ghost Machine #1 and find out!

Geiger shows his power

Overview

The massive 64-page comic has four parts that each bring unique flavors to the table. With The Unnamed, you’ve got the origins of a team of strange superheroes banding together to stop a big bad. Rook Exodus takes to the stars with a gritty sci-fi story about a group of survivors fighting to save what’s left of their dying planet. Then there’s Family Odyessys, the lighthearted, family-oriented stories with fantastical twists. Finally, there’s Hyde Street, the darkest corner of Ghost Machine, where stories will send chills down your spine. Put all these together and you’ve got a wide selection of stories to dive into.

Review

For a project as big as Ghost Machine, Geoff Johns and the other creators behind it made the absolute best decision to put out a one-shot like this. Even if the names attached to the initiative are buzz-worthy on their own, people will be talking about the quality of the comics at the end of the day. This supersized issue does a stellar job of setting the tone and building up the various tentpoles of Ghost Machine’s strange new universe. From the differing styles of storytelling to the overall presentation of the comic, everything in the issue gives a clear idea of what the new imprint has in store for readers. Particularly, if you collected classic Marvel and X-Men cards in the 90s as a kid, you are in for a treat with what’s inside this issue. In between the stories are highly detailed character profile pages that contain everything from their origin stories to biodata. Not only are these pages incredibly useful in getting to know the different characters, but they are also, in a way, wonderfully nostalgic. Then, if I were to pick a favorite among the bunch, it would be the horror-themed Hyde Street. Despite being one of the shortest previews, it was intriguing to see the creators explore a terrifying horror concept. As a total package, a lot gets done with the 64 pages to give you well-paced, bite-sized setups for the comics coming throughout the year.

Rook and the others attack

However, I must admit that most of the comics shown in the one-shot have big “cape stuff” energy to them. As unique as the characters in The Unnamed and Rook Exodus are, there are strong superhero qualities in their presentation and storytelling. For better and for worse, that’s just what to expect when you’ve got names like Geoff Johns and Bryan Hitch at the helm. But, regardless of how you may feel about superhero comics in general, there’s an air of excitement when you flip through the pages of this comic. From the sheer breadth of titles Ghost Machine is putting out this year alone, you get the clear impression that the creators behind it are cutting loose with their creativity. It feels reminiscent of what Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee did during the early days of Image Comics. As divisive as that era in comics is these days, it’s hard to deny the contagious rebellious energy that flowed through those pages in the 90s. Johns and crew seem primed to carry the spirit of what makes creator-owned comics so fun and exciting to follow.

Final Thoughts

While not necessarily my cup of tea these days, I love the creative energy that is gushing from such an ambitious project like this. This one-shot is an impressive showcase of what’s to come from a group of creators hungry to explore new horizons. So, whether you’re taking a seat in comics’ latest hype train or simply looking for something new and fun to read, you can’t go wrong with what’s inside this total package of an issue. In a way, this ambitious project is what comics are all about: Creators getting to do their own thing, explore new worlds and characters, and tell exciting new stories.

Meeting the Rocketfellers

Why You Should Read Ghost Machine

  • Each of Ghost Machine’s tentpole titles shows plenty of promise in their storytelling and presentation.
  • It’s exciting to see seasoned creators and up-and-comers getting to spread their creative wings. 
  • This one-shot has everything you need to get up to speed on the characters part of the exciting new imprint.
TAGGED: Image Comics
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