Ghost Whisperer #1: The Haunted
by Becca & Carrie Smith, Elena Casagrande (IDW, 2008)

I have never watched the Ghost Whisperer TV series. So I entered into Jennifer Love Hewitt's fictional, supernatural world for the first time with The Haunted, the first volume in the spin-off comic-book series.

First, I have to say that, to my novice eyes, this is Buffy Lite. While there are no vampires to slay -- this is a kinder, gentler brand of occult fantasy -- the story shoots for the same kind of hip, edgy, oh-so-witty dialogue that feels derivative and, as often as not, falls flat. Second, the artistic focus on cleavage and legs -- especially those of Melinda Gordon, Hewitt's character -- tells you exactly what demographic this book is targeting. Not that I have anything against Hewitt's cleavage and legs, mind you, but really, does it have to be so obvious?

The book contains several related stories, each of which follows this basic plot:

• A young, attractive ghost manifests and causes some hardship for the living.

• Melinda, who always happens to be in the vicinity when the ghost manifests, discovers the its history and the connection between it and its targets, usually with the help of Giles -- I mean, uh, Prof. Rick Payne, an expert on occult research.

• Melinda offers platitudes meant to make everyone -- living and dead -- feel better about the situation.

• The still-living victims offer tearful apologies for their wrongs, the ghost forgives them and crosses into the light with a beatific smile.

The thread tying these several stories together is the dark Egyptian god Osiris, who is trying very hard to claim some of these souls Melinda is saving. OK, so we know it's not really Osiris, but some poor ghost has convinced himself (or herself) that he (or she) is the god of pharoahs -- and he (or she) really wants a friend.

For Hewitt's sake, I hope the writing for the live-action version is better. (I am not optimistic, however, since Becca Smith, co-writer of this book, is on the writing staff for the TV series.)

review by
Tom Knapp

22 August 2009

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