Possessive #2: Caught in a Bad Romance

The unconventional romance between abrasive alcoholic Todd and the poltergeist haunting his new home continues as the pair get to know one another. While their relationship develops into a quirky yet promising romance, this absurd horror rom-com still fails to get the laughs as it buckles beneath its own premise.

Possessive #2

Eduardo Garcia (Artist), Hans Rodionoff and Adam F. Goldberg (Writers), Martin Coccolo and Ivan Nunes (Cover Artists), Carlos M. Mangual (Letters), and Robby Bevard (Colors)
September 15, 2021

A drawing of a mother, father, and their two children smiling for a family portrait. Behiind them in a black background and a ghostly figure peering at them from the shadows.

When we last left Todd, he was at his lowest point yet, stuck with a haunted manor he couldn’t sell and antagonized by the ghost living in the attic. The ghost’s intentions to scare Todd out of his self-destructive state become clear as she trashes his alcohol and kills a delivery man who arrives with more beer. Todd hatches a plot to have the ghost exorcised by a priest, but when this backfires, he has no choice but to handle the spirit himself.

He investigates the house’s dark past and discovers that his spectral roommate is Lady Katheryn Braithwaite, abused by her alcoholic husband, Phineas. Accused of infidelity, Phineas locked Katheryn in the attic and tortured her until she killed them both. Todd confronts Katheryn about her past, and the two come to an understanding. Soon, Todd sobers up, fixes up the house, and signs the divorce papers. While still a frightening ghost that crabwalks around the walls, Katheryn begins to warm up to Todd and spend time with him. He even sells several new paintings when he discovers his muse, inspired by Katheryn and the house.

Together, the unlikely couple begins an amusing courtship as Katheryn transforms into her true self and abandons her grotesque form. Things quickly grow heated, and they sleep together, consummating their relationship and healthier new life together. However, the honeymoon soon ends when Todd’s wife Jess arrives the following day. Jess is won over by his one week of sobriety and newfound maturity and wants to get back together. Todd immediately agrees and kisses Jess while a betrayed Katheryn looks on, regressing into her poltergeist form once more.

Possessive #2 finds its footing after a lukewarm first issue. Eduardo Garcia’s lively, expressive artwork and Robby Bevard’s rich color palettes are a treat, capturing the dark humor at the heart of the series. The visual gags are well-paced, while the instances of cartoonish violence are lightly sprinkled throughout, played for grim but effective laughs. Katheryn’s transformation from a hissing, shrieking ghost to an earnest and playful presence is downright charming. She sweeps Todd off his feet, and I can’t help but root for her as the real star of the series.

While this issue has its highlights, its core conceit makes it hard to appreciate them. The scripted dialogue and characterization are where the series loses me. Writers Hans Rodionoff and Adam F. Goldberg rely on two kinds of jokes: cheap shots about Todd’s alcoholism and Todd screaming the F-word at every possible opportunity. Despite being billed as a horror rom-com, the script simply doesn’t offer any humor besides its own premise’s absurdity.

As for the premise itself, the romance hinges on the fall-out of domestic unrest in Todd’s case and horrific abuse in Katheryn’s. Todd is a selfish, abrasive alcoholic who sabotages his life, while Katheryn was abused and driven to murder-suicide by her alcoholic husband. Alcoholism, which is treated as a joke condition and handwaved away after a week’s sobriety, is the cause of so much suffering. Yet Katheryn, a lost soul still tormented by the circumstances of her violent death, morphs into a silent muse who convinces Todd to sober up and return to art. Worst of all, Todd discards her the moment Jess takes him back.

It isn’t subversive to build a romantic comedy around such weighty subject matter and treat it as a joke – it’s careless. Katheryn’s transformation and Todd getting his life back together is an admittedly cute idea, but he bounces back after just one week. I don’t expect a three-part series to explore the nuances of recovery, but if he can fix his life so quickly and with so little effort, how can I buy into the premise in the first place? Todd is a selfish, immature character in a thoughtless, undeveloped romance that rewards him with love at the expense of the women in his life. And it’s hard to root for somebody who isn’t even good enough for a murderous poltergeist.

With only one issue left to tie the story together, I don’t think there’s a way for the series to overcome its own conceit and arrive at a satisfying conclusion. It’s a shame to see Possessive sputter toward an underwhelming finale after offering so many delightful little moments in this issue. If handled with more consideration for its own subject matter, this could have been a truly charming off-beat romance.

Magen Cubed

Magen Cubed

Magen Cubed is a novelist, occasional critic, and general internet menace. Frequently seen hollering about monsters on Twitter.

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