I’m always wary of comic books based on video games, and Modern Warfare 2: Ghost #1 is the reason why. WildStorm delivers a painfully mediocre first issue to what looks like it will be a long six issues that will wrap up only after the insane hype for this game has died away. Even a top-notch talent like David Lapham (Stray Bullets, Young Liars) can’t save this book from appealing only to maybe the most die-hard fanatics of the acclaimed Call of Duty franchise.
The story is solicited as a reveal of the backstory of game character Ghost, who wears a spooky skull mask at all times. He appears on only the cover and two pages within the book itself, and the rest of the time is spent telling a story about another team of soldiers that apparently relates in some way to Ghost’s past. Though the tale will surely all tie together in subsequent issues, I found the opening two pages far more interesting than anything else that occured during the rest of the issue, as it finds Ghost tied up and beaten inside a school in Ukraine, where terrorists have threatened to kill a child every hour. To this, Ghost simply replies "how about a story while we wait?" and off we go into the unfortunate main narrative of the book.
Aside from the decidely uninteresting story, Lapham delivers generally good dialog and pacing, but the real problem with the storytelling lies in the team of artist Kevin West and colorist Carrie Strachan. First, both artists are talented, that isn’t really debatable; what is, however, is their being assigned to this book. The colors are far too bright and airbrushed to be suitable for a gritty war tale, whether it takes place in the desert or the trenches of a snow ridden Poland. As for West, his characters aren’t discernable from one another whatsoever, besides of course, Ghost, who has a trademark look that can’t be mistaken. Lapham’s writing really depends on the artist to tell the story visually, as he uses as little exposition as possible, but West really falls short in his delivery. By the end of the issue and its multiple betrayals and deceit, I was left utterly confused by who screwed who and what it all had to do with anything.
Perhaps Lapham is used to writing for himself, knowing his own skills with a pencil and how he would construct the page, visually. If he had drawn the book himself, I’m inclined to think that the storytelling may have been a little more distinct, but probably wouldn’t have added much to the book as a whole because after all, the main focus of the narrative still strays from what is the most interesting.
I’ll admit my attachment to the games is slim to none, I’ve played them and they are enjoyable but in no way have I ever dreamed of getting a comic series to "expand" the world. If Modern Warfare 2 simply wasn’t enough Call of Duty for you this week, then by all means pick up this issue. Just know that your $3.99 is better spent towards putting some funds aside for future DLC.