Ghost Machine – The Complete Breakdown

Ghost Machine Banner by Gary Frank

The year is 2024. Geoff Johns has announced that he’s left DC Comics and with him goes a cavalcade of some of the best artists in the comics industry. Together, they’re building something new.

That something is Ghost Machine.

What is Ghost Machine?

Ghost Machine is an independent comics and production company, founded by Geoff Johns alongside Gary Frank, Bryan Hitch, Jason Fabok, Peter J Tomasi, Brad Meltzer, Lamont Magee, Francis Manapul, Peter Snejbjerg, Maytal Zchut and Ivan Reis.

In short, Ghost Machine is an independent publisher that’s home to multiple new universes of comics. Each is built around strong, accessible characters that build off of the team’s years of expertise crafting some of the biggest superhero comics, while all operating in vastly different genres.

Most recognisable at this point will be the Unnamed Universe. Home to series such as Geiger and Junkyard Joe from Johns and Frank, the Unnamed Universe debuted in the lead up to the company’s official launch. However, as part of the opening salvo of new titles, readers discovered that all new properties such as Rook: Exodus from Johns and Fabok, and The Rocketfellers from Peter J Tomasi and Francis Manapul will also be published by Ghost Machine (through Image Comics).

Mission Statements

The mission behind the company is simple: ‘great comics come from great characters and equity comes from true artistic ownership’.

As a result, Ghost Machine really seems to be positioning itself to echo not just the hype but also the ethos behind the early days of Image Comics, and it’s very encouraging. A big part of the appeal of their new series is the promise of seeing these creators operating in a completely untethered way, telling stories they care deeply about, with characters they have equity in and no one telling them what they can and can’t do with them.

What’s the Difference between Ghost Machine and Mad Ghost?

For those that have been reading books like Geiger and Junkyard Joe since the start, you may recall these issues being labelled with the “Mad Ghost” title, rather than Ghost Machine.

Mad Ghost Productions was, effectively, a proto-Ghost Machine. Before Geoff Johns officially brought in people like Jason Fabok, Francis Manapul and Lamont Magee, expanding it into the wider entity that Ghost Machine is today, Mad Ghost served as Johns’ production company. Additionally, it matters related to comics, Mad Ghost acted as an imprint at Image Comics – not unlike other entities such as Skybound or Giant Generator.

With the widening of the team, and the development of titles outside the Unnamed Universe of characters, Mad Ghost was supplanted with Ghost Machine.

Are All the Ghost Machine Series Set in One Shared Universe?

No. Ghost Machine is home to four different universes of stories, each focusing on wildly different genres and characters.

The original universe that most will be familiar with is that of the Unnamed, but as Ghost Machine launches in 2024 readers will be introduced to tales from the world of Rook: Exodus, a sci-fi universe, as well as more horror-themed titles and also a family-oriented line of books.

What Comics do Ghost Machine Publish?

As mentioned previously, Ghost Machine is home to four distinct universes of stories and characters, each focusing on different genres and each built by different creators.

While there is some creator overlap, particularly in Geoff John’s case as he writes under multiple narrative banners, these universes are entirely separate outside of the fact they come from the same company.

The Unnamed

The first of Ghost Machine’s four comic book universes, the world of The Unnamed is Johns and co.’s entirely independent superhero universe. Only, they’re not like the costumed superheroes the team spent years creating.

The Unnamed are a series of figures lost to the “secret history” of America. They’re characters that thread in and out of the U.S.’s past, changing the course of events in sometimes subtle, sometimes drastic ways.

Because of this, The Unnamed is this unique blend of character-driven storytelling in the tradition of the greatest superhero comics, while also being a story that thoroughly engages with a kind of alt-history take on the United States. Perfect for history nerds and comics nerds alike!

Core themes of the Unnamed universe are family, war, heroism and narrative history.

Reading Order

#1. Release Order

This allows you to experience the story in its “natural” format and, despite not being in chronological order, will ensure that you encounter various set-ups, introductions and cross-overs in the order intended.

For example, while Junkyard Joe takes place prior to Geiger in chronological terms, readers were initially first introduced to Joe in the pages of the latter. Reading it in release order is not inherently better or worse, but it does change how you experience moments like this. Do you want to go in with all the information, or do you want to experience things as they were originally intended to be?

The release order reading order is as follows:

Geiger (2021) #1-6

The series that started it all. Geiger follows husband and father Tariq Geiger after something called the Unknown War causes nuclear devastion to sweep across the United States.

This is collected in Geiger, Volume 1 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Brad Anderson.

Geiger 80-Page Giant

This will be collected in the Geiger Deluxe Edition , alongside Geiger #1-6 and “30 pages of bonus material”. Otherwise, it is perfect bound, which means if you’re collecting physically and want to display everything on your shelf then this issue does have a spine (albeit, a thin one).

Junkyard Joe #1-6

This is collected in Junkyard Joe, Volume 1 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Brad Anderson.

“The Blizzard” (Geoff Johns, Andrea Mutti) in Image! #1-12

While it was originally published in the Image! anthology series, this story will be collected in the Tales of the Unnamed: The Blizzard collected edition in July 2024.

Geiger: Ground Zero #1-2

It is currently unclear where/if this will be collected, but it is likely that it will be collected as part of an inevitable Geiger, Volume 2 after the new series launches in April 2024.

Ghost Machine #1

Technically, this isn’t really essential reading, as it acts mostly as a teaser trailer for things to come with Geiger and Redcoat. However, it does introduce readers to the plot point that a Nuclear Knight is seeking out Geiger for his own ends – so, completionists may want to pick this up just in case.

#2. In-Universe Chronological Order

On the flip side, you may want to read things in the order in which they technically occur throughout the events of the various Unnamed series.

It should be noted that, at certain points, different series may overlap or present flashbacks to scenes prior to the events of other series. This list will not be able to cover all the various minutiae like that, but will generally detail the truest chronological order to read each major instalment in the universe.

  1. Redcoat #1-
  2. Junkyard Joe #1-6
  3. “The Blizzard” (Tales of the Unnamed: The Blizzard)
  4. Geiger: Ground Zero #1-2
  5. Geiger (2021) #1-6
  6. Geiger 80-page Giant
  7. Ghost Machine #1 (The Unnamed stories feat. Geiger and Redcoat)
  8. Geiger (2024) #1-

Rook: Exodus

Set in the far reaches of space, Rook: Exodus is the first title in its own sci-fi universe.

The official synopsis is as follows:

‘Hundreds of years from now, the man known as Rook was once a simple farmer who fled the crumbling Earth for a new life on the planet Exodus; a terraformed planet where all of nature, including its imported animal population, was completely controlled by humans called Wardens. But when Exodus’s world engine failed, the Wardens’ power fell into the wrong hands, creating chaos and mass evacuation…for those who could afford it. The rest, like Rook, must scavenge for an escape vessel as the war for control of what’s left of Exodus begins.’

Rook: Exodus #1 Preview

This will be Fabok’s first published interior work since the release of Three Jokers with Geoff Johns at DC, and comes hotly anticipated as a result.

Family Odyssey

So far, the only two books in the Family Odyssey house of titles are The Rocketfellers and Hornsby and Halo. Both titles are written by Peter J Tomasi, with art by Francis Manapul and Peter Snejbjerg respectively.

The official synopsis for issue #1 of The Rocketfellers is as such:

‘In the 26th Century, where everything seems to be picture-perfect, the dysfunctional and imperfect ROCKETFELLER family discovers their future is in jeopardy and the only place safe from harm is to escape to the past where they have to adapt and hide their distinctive futuristic traditions to the Earth of 2024 which, to them, is filled with strange customs and even crazier people. But that threat hasn’t quite stayed in the future where it belongs.’

The Rocketfellers #1 Preview

Similarly, Hornsby and Halo’s premise is outlined here:

‘In Hornsby & Halo, nothing less than peace between Heaven and Hell is at stake, as demon daughter Rose Hornsby and angel son Zach Halo are at the center of a cosmic family swap. It’s Nature versus Nurture, as the age-old battle of Good and Evil is as simple as who speaks louder: the angel on Rose’s shoulder, or the demon trying to crack Zach’s halo. Teenage hormones have never been more epic.

Hornsby and Halo, from League of Comic Geeks

Family Odyssey comics are slightly lighter in tone than their Ghost Machine contemporaries, and are set to feature stories more suitable for readers of all ages.

Hyde Street

Finally, we have the universe of Hyde Street. This is Ghost Machine’s horror universe and begins, naturally, with the series Hyde Street (It’s unclear if the name of this universe will continue to be Hyde Street once it gets expanded upon, but for now this is what it’s referred to).

The Hyde Street series is written by Geoff Johns, with art by Ivan Reis and Brad Anderson.

Ghost Machine’s synopsis for the series can be found here:

‘A whole new generation of epic horror begins with a walk down HYDE STREET. In every town, in every city, and off every country road in every corner of the world… you can find your way here. Get ready to meet MR. X-RAY, PRANKY THE SCOUT, THE COLONIST, and many, many more wonderfully intriguing and terrifying characters, all soon to thrill your senses and populate your nightmares.’

Characters: Hyde Street,

What’s most exciting about this (beyond getting to see veteran artist Ivan Reis get to flex those horror muscles) is the sheer amount of horror subgenres that the series seems to be pulling from. Where exactly this will all go is unclear, but the journey there looks incredibly exciting.

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