Faith without works is a phrase which examines the practitioner’s actions, but shouldn’t it also include the preacher/provider. A lack of evidentiary support will doom any case, even one held in the Court of the Most High. But what happens when what you witness is equal parts glory and gory. That is the situation in the new horror series from Boom Comics titled Ghostlore. Once you bear witness, you are never quite the same.
Written by: Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by: Leomacs
Colored by: Jason Wordie
Lettered by: Ed Dukeshire
Illustrated by: Brian Hurtt
Coloreed by: Bill Crabtree
Ghostlore opens with a midweek evening worship service, also known as Prayer Meeting (or Prayer and Praise) in some denominations. Think of this as a reinvigoration or recharge for the spiritual battery. With this gathering writer Cullen Bunn establishes this as a tight knit, church centered community early in this first issue. However the specters of sadness and lack are also present, seen in the faces of those in the pews (as well as the empty seats) and the parishoner’s words to Reverend Lucas Agate after the service has ended. These two emotional states are contradictory for people of faith. This sets this story up as something of a somber, solemn sermon. And this tone carries over to the pacing of this first issue, like church it feels a little boring at first yet you can sense there is a message in there if you don’t doze.
Carrying the artistic loads for this portion of Ghostlore, co-creator/illustrator Leomacs along with Jason Wordie create a testament to old and new styles. During the sermon and subsequent drive home, this comic book has what feels like a graphic novel at times. So even with accents and coloring this technique highlights the situation while supplying subtle shadows and sights which suggest something is sinister in this town.
The church views the family, whether it is a single household or the community, as a cornerstone to its existence. Ghostlore shows Lucas is concerned with his dwindling flock, however, his own sheep are suffering as well. Their mom Em acts as an intercessor, explaining it as a natural thing, but the pastor can sense he is losing his little lambs. First there is Harmony, whose name is a polar opposite of her current personality. Teens and church/family are like oil and vinegar, they don’t mix without an emulsifier. And often the yolk proves too much which is why Harmony cannot wait to leave and head to Babylon aka New York.
Then there is younger son Chris who is despondent and doesn’t speak. This changes after the family car, driven by Harmony, crashes into a tree. Harmony attempts to explain what she saw as her dad panics. Meanwhile it is at this point that Chris begins the tale of what led to him no longer talking.
At this point Ghostlore becomes quite canonical as this portion is something like a chapter from another book. “Unfolding” shows Chirs and friends harassing a new student named Esme. Guess Lucas hasn’t gotten to Colossians 4:5 yet. This section not only gives Chris his voice back but also allows readers to share his experience. With a shift in artists and coloring, courtesy of Brian Hurtt and Bill Crabtree, this small arc is when Chirs gives up the ghost – literally and physically. While leaving the family’s car surrounded by them, each with a story to tell – these souls need salvation. So it seems the Big Apple may have to wait, Harmony is about to take up the cross
Much like sacred texts, Ghostlore can feel complex and confusing. With everything the Agate family experiences in this issue, answers are absolutely necessary. And yet Bunn offers few, most importantly the epiphany that Harmony receives that evening from Chris and the assembled ghosts. I cannot bear these burdens alone.