What makes a killer? What twists and turns in life occur that pushes a person towards a life of death and mayhem? Were they the product of a broken home? Did they experience some sort of trauma or tragedy that led them down this path? If you’re Anderson Lake, none of the above. Nope, turns out the female assassin, now Jackson Winters’ personal ghostly companion, once in the employ of Markus Schreken was just really good at killing. And as the old adage goes: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
In the prelude to the next arc in Ghosted, Joshua Williamson and returning artist Goran Sudzuka, explore the backstory of the one character who should’ve been able to give Jackson a run for his money were it not for that whole pesky death thing. Was her life tragic? Depends on your perspective. As far as her early years were concerned, Anderson had nothing but opportunities ahead of her. She was a good-looking, blonde-haired, white woman of privilege with an abundance of paths from which to choose. She just happened to be really good at snuffing the life out of other people, so she made a career out of it. From her perspective, Anderson set her own rules. Though she was in the employ of others as a hired assassin, she made her own choices in regards to who she worked for and how she accomplished her jobs. Sure she made some mistakes along the way, but she owned up to them because it was all on her for miscalculating the situation or getting too cocky. She was a self-assured badass assassin and the real tragedy of her own story is that she’s dead and Jackson killed her.
Conversely, from Jackson’s perspective, it’s the choices Anderson made that led her towards the realm of the Grim Reaper. Yes, she had the agency to choose her clients, but she also chose to work for Markus Schreken and threaten a possessed Trick in order to steal a ghost. She could have dropped her gun and followed Jackson, but she decided to remain loyal to her employer, earning her a grisly death all in service of a man who set her up for ruin. Anderson’s story, and the consequences, are yet another example of how Joshua Williamson has set up the rules and mythology in Ghosted. Everything comes down to choice. You choose to get involved in the supernatural and it changes you. Choose to do something wrong and you’re punished. Choose to do something right and you’re rewarded…mostly. The word’s still out on where Jackson’s nebulous choices will land him, but as we’ve seen in the last two arcs, he’s not without his demons because of the choices he made prior to the events of the book and the choices he continues to make.
The rich world of Ghosted continues to expand as Williamson and Sudzuka introduce us to the hillbillies of the South with their candles made of virgin blood. Like the Brotherhood of the Closed Book in Mexico, the product is part and parcel of a greater enterprise that involves getting high off being close to death through the smoke of the candles. It’s inventive and disturbing, something Williamson seems to excel at when it comes to horror and the supernatural. Sudzuka’s art is always welcome, even if it’s only for one issue, but it’s fitting that he returned for this story since it harkens back to the Anderson we met in the first story arc. That smirk of hers makes you respect and fear the assassin that she is, but towards the end we get to see her features soften a bit in regards to Jackson’s situation. She may have proclaimed her desires to haunt Jackson until the day he dies, but she’s also seen what already haunts him and for the briefest moment it seems as though she feels sorry for him. Like Jackson, Anderson is a morally dubious character, but in seeing where she came from and where she ended up, we find ourselves feeling just a sliver of empathy for her.
Rating – 10/10
Final Thoughts: That’s a mighty big shadow Jackson’s casting.