Review: Tokyo Ghost #3

Tokyo Ghost #3 sees erstwhile lovers Debbie and Teddy shunning the hyper-tech world of Los Angeles and welcomed by locals into the feudal, no-tech enclave that future Japan has become. In so doing, we are treated to a sweepingly gorgeous, yet narratively toned-down issue that focuses on the relationship of our heroes, set within an interestingly inverse telling of the Garden of Eden story. Leading her partner into a forbidden paradise, Debbie (Eve) convinces god (Japan’s seemingly magical matriarch Kazumi) to cure Teddy (Adam) of his infection of boundless human knowledge. And in an issue once again chock-full of story (such that it turns a couple of pages’ margins into a hanging tapestry of exposition), Tokyo Ghost proves to be the beginning of a very cool nouveau-creation myth. Of course, as is evidenced by the end of the issue, even here, there are snakes in the garden.

While decidedly less action-packed than the series’ previous offerings, Tokyo Ghost #3 does not skimp on powerful storytelling, and constitutes a very strong return to form for Rick Remender, which should undoubtedly win back any fans previously disappointed with his later Marvel work. Of course, anyone who has been following his creator-owned comics will see it as a continuation of a well-honed writing style.

Tokyo-Ghost-#3-1Remender is one of the few writers who is as comfortable writing natural, interpersonal dialogue as he is extolling through poesy the depths of his expansive world-building. Both sides of that style are on display here as he flawlessly jumps between a woman’s hope for redemption, a man’s struggle with the pangs of withdrawal and the potential of a perfect society, which could, at any moment, be ripped asunder by human jealousy and the comeuppance of the past.

The visual storytelling of Tokyo Ghost, directed by the incomparable Sean Murphy, is just as infinitely well-manicured and dynamic as Remender’s narrative. As with any book with which his name is associated at any given time, issue three boasts some of the best looking pages on the stands this new comic book day, and you would be a fool to not pick it up for its art alone. Tapping into a traditional Japanese aesthetic, not just in setting but in style, Murphy soaks every inch of his pages in atmosphere, even when making room for Remender’s verbosity.

With foreground figure work that is lithe and rough set against backgrounds that are nothing short of ethereal, even majestic, the visual atmosphere of Tokyo Ghost is perhaps its most powerful weapon in an arsenal of incredible strengths. Accentuating the effect further still are the colors of Matt Hollingsworth, who, for my money, and based on this issue alone, proves himself to be one of the best in the business. His efforts here are absolutely integral to the luscious bleed and power of this story, benefitting as it does from both a light hand and a frenetic neon frenzy.

What else can I say other than I fucking love every bit of this book, and this issue especially. In a library increasingly buoyed by truly stellar work, Tokyo Ghost stands as Image Comics’ most brilliant and seductive gem.

Score: 5/5

Tokyo Ghost #3 Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Sean Murphy Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth Letterer: Rus Wooton Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/18/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital