When faced with a demonic figure that was coaxed into fully possessing the girl it’d been suppressed by because you need to save your own skin, what’s a guy to do? If you’re Jackson Winters, the answer is run away because you’ve reached the point where you give zero fucks (pardon my French). Unfortunately for Jackson, or fortunately depending on how you look at things, he happens to have a lot of Jiminy Crickets on hand to put him on the right track. And by “right track” I mean the lesser evil option. And by “lesser evil” I mean the lighter side of the morally ambiguous gray area. And by “gray area” I mean – ya know what, just assume Jackson still isn’t the greatest guy ever, but he is the best option available.
In the conclusion to Ghosted’s second arc, Jackson finds himself surrounded at just about every angle. He helped the Skadegamutc inside Nina take over to avoid getting thrown into a pit of darkness, giving Nina’s grandmother, Wenona Blood Crow, and cold-blooded killer Skinner the ability to appeal to the ghost’s power-hungry proclivities. There’s also the Mexican “resort” of possessed girls in need of saving as the temple where the Brotherhood of the Closed Book takes residence is falling apart under the immense power and fury of Azban Blood Crow. In helping the ghost completely possess Nina, Jackson backed himself into a corner without a plan and, when presented with few options, he decides abandoning everything is the best decision. Trick, however, thinks differently and soundly delivers the slap in the face Jackson needs to get his head back in the game, figuratively and literally. Giving up and walking away is not an option. This time, Jackson has to make a better choice, which is all he needs to devise his end game.
We’ve known from the beginning of Ghosted that Jackson was already a haunted man. He carries his ghosts with him in the memories he tries to keep hidden away and the decisions he’s made since the botched job robbing Wenona’s casino. But it’s that pain that actually lets him get through to Nina. In a small, yet significant way, Jackson’s confrontation with the Skadegamutc is a means of exorcising his own demons, connecting with Nina in a way that allows her to fight the entity possessing her. It doesn’t necessarily eradicate them – Anderson’s still around – but in appealing to Nina and exploiting the root of her possession, Jackson betrays his own persona.
The center point of the Ghosted for the first two arcs has been Jackson’s blasé attitude towards life and death. He presents himself as a man who wants to die and yet, as Trick points out, he does an awful lot to ensure that he keeps breathing. For Jackson, it all boils down to choice. If he wanted to die, there’s nothing preventing him from putting a bullet in his brains or throwing himself off a building. And yet he always finds a way out of getting killed, always finds a reason to keep going, waiting for someone else to take the ultimate decision out of his hands. It’s something to fight against, a means of choosing to live, or at the very least survive.
Of course there’s plenty more twists and turns in the story. Gotta go out with a bang, right? Well, someone does unfortunately. I fully admit there are about three turns I didn’t see coming and I’m all the happier for it since it shows Joshua Williamson can keep me on my toes when I’m not biting my nails in anticipation and suspense. Although, given his other comic, Nailbiter, maybe that’s not the best thing to be doing right now.
As with the previous arc, Ghosted thrives on the right balance of humor, horror, and humanity, All of which are embodied in Jackson Winters. Williamson’s ability to craft a character worth rooting for despite his repeatedly selfish and questionable decisions is what keeps readers coming back. Plus there’s some pretty amazing art from Davide Gianfelice. The liveliness of his art, paired with the striking colors of Miroslav Mrva, keeps the climax of the story heightened without losing any of the tension. It’s a gorgeous and thrilling end to another chapter in Jackson’s unwilling adventures with the occult.
Rating – 10/10
Final Thoughts: So many Necronomicons, not enough Ash’s to screw up the magic words!