Oh how I’ve been kicking myself for not reviewing this series. The Ghost Fleet is hands down one of Dark Horse’s best new titles. Donny Cates and Daniel Warren Johnson have been kicking major ass on a story that is riddled with supernatural elements, government conspiracies and heart. So much damn heart. This is the payoff issue for sure as we tie in all the emotional scenes between Ward and Trace’s past. That’s actually where it kicks off in the past with a very different looking Ward sitting in his driveway drinking. He hears his wife scream and grabs his piece and runs into the house to find Trace cooking with his wife. Without missing a beat Trace puts on a nice face in front of Sara and takes Ward outside. He basically asks if he’s cheating on Sara and then in only the way his character can, brings it all home for Ward.
On the surface it’s easy to think that Trace is in love with Sara and that’s why he’s there, that’s why he’s making sure Ward does what he’s supposed to… but that’s not why. Trace is in love with Ward, but not romantically. That’s his brother. That’s the man he would give his life for over and over again and the woman his brother loves is dying which is tearing both of them apart. Trace sees it better and so he does everything he can to hold together the family he has. That’s why this book is so fucking good, because this is just the opening. This is just the icing on the emotional cake. That’s right, Cates isn’t done tugging on those heart-strings.
Of course the story then checks in with present day Trace and Ward. Each of them is accepting their fate and a phrase that Trace says is basically the theme of the entire issue, “It’s all on the wheel.”
The reason that’s clever is because Cates is telling the reader the same thing. He even explains it saying that everything has been decided and that nothing can be changed. So often in comics readers forget that the story is set long before print. By the time we’re reading issue four, the creative team is hard to work on issue six or seven. It’s already done and so in a way it’s all on the wheel.
Because it also means, “what goes around, comes around” it means that this union of the past isn’t over. You could say that everything has been coming back around since the very first issue.
If you want to win me over in a comic book, make realistic snow. Yes that’s stupid as fuck to say, but for me personally snow has a distinct mood and if you get it wrong… you ruin your own scene. Johnson gets it right. He nails it so well in fact that it amplifies the opening scene, especially when Trace pulls Roland aside. His usage of shadowing is perfect and never comes across as lazy or worse out of place. So many artists think that shadows can just fall anywhere and so the lighting to create them is completely ignored. The result looks like a first day film student trying to light a set. Having at one point in my life been a first day film student lighting a set I know how to really fuck things up with shadows so I absolutely hate in comics. Johnson knows his lighting and makes great use of it for dramatic effects.
I may be a few reviews behind, but there’s no way I’m checking out on this issue any time soon. The story is a hell of a rollercoaster and couldn’t keep you guessing more. The art is wonderful and crafts a believable world for our story to take place in. It’s the real deal and very different from anything else Dark Horse publishes so don’t let your predetermination of what you think Dark Horse publishes fool you.
Writer: Donny Cates Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson Publisher: Dark Horse Comic Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/4/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital