GHOSTMedium: Comic books
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
First appeared: 1993
Creators: Jerry Prosser (writer) and Adam Hughes (artist)
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The two best-known and most-enjoyed "universes" in comic books are those of Marvel and DC Comics, both of which developed gradually, unplanned, over a period of decades. Starting in the 1980s, it became almost de rigeur for smaller publishers to try to create universes of their own, by carefully working out exactly how their various series would fit together. One by one, they found out that what happens through an almost natural process of haphazard accretion, over a lengthy span of time, can't be duplicated by an extended brainstorming session. The attempted universe
creation of Dark Horse Comics (Concrete, The Mask), called "Comics Greatest World", began in the summer of 1993; and a majority of the series created for it were gone by winter, 1994. By the end of the decade, the only one left was Ghost.
Like The Spectre, Mr. Justice and Nemesis, Ghost was a superhero who wasn't deterred by such a trifle as death. In fact, her first post-mortem task was to deal with the people who had murdered her. And since her ghostly self started out without any memories, the first step in that task was to figure out who she was and why she was dead.
She found she was Elisa Cameron, an investigative journalist in the city of Arcadia (one of four locales Dark Horse had concentrated on in developing Comics' Greatest World), who appeared to have discovered one too many secrets about the local organized crime scene. But every time she thought she'd explained her murder, it turned out there were more mysteries to be solved, and even more to discover about her own living self.
Ghost was first seen in Comics' Greatest World: Arcadia #3, dated August, 1993. Her next appearance was in a title of her own, dated July, 1994, but it was only a oneshot. Three months after that, she did a crossover with X (no relation), a denizen of Comics' Greatest World who had gotten his own series in February. She finally got an ongoing series of her own, starting with a cover date of April, 1995.
Her creation is generally credited to writer Jerry Prosser, who had scripted several Comics' Greatest World introductory stories; and artist Adam Hughes, who was quickly earning a reputation in what some comic book aficionados call "good girl art" and the rest of the world calls "cheesecake", i.e., drawings of very attractive women like her and Jen Mays. But since she was created as simply an element of a much larger creation, it's actually more complicated. Hughes credits Chris Warner (Moon Knight) with basic design of the character; and most of her back-story was worked out between Hughes and writer Eric Luke (who later had a stint on Wonder Woman) just prior to the launch of the series.
That back-story included superhero-like abilities going back to when she was fully alive. In fact, she was born with the power to teleport by entering an alien dimension and exiting it in a different location — the legacy of a so-called "nano-virus" connected with Vortex, another Comics' Greatest World character. The sole inhabitant of that dimension, Cameron Nemo, was her childhood friend but later became a deadly enemy. In college, she was tapped by The Furies, a group of psychically-powered women who considered her abilities useful. Her activities in investigative reporting were at least partly a cover for her work with that outfit. Most surprising, she may not have been exactly dead. Her adventures with The Furies had eventually brought her to a ghost-like state, able to be invisible and intangible, but with the power to draw physical objects (such as the twin .45s she wielded) into her ghostly dimension so she could use them. Originally motivated solely by revenge, she later came to see herself as Arcadia's protector, to the point where she actually turned down a possible opportunity to return to normal.
Ghost's first series lasted 36 issues, ending in April, 1998. Her second began only five months later, and its 22 issues brought her to August, 2000. Along the way, she met other Comics' Greatest World characters such as King Tiger and Barb Wire, as well as various heroes from outside that line, such as The Shadow, Hellboy and Batgirl.
Ghost isn't currently appearing on a regular basis. But her relative popularity, compared to the rest of Comics' Greatest World, is such that the next time one of them does start appearing regularly again, it'll probably be Ghost.