Publisher: Image Comics
Story: Rick Remender
Artwork: Sean Gordon Murphy, Matt Hollingsworth
Release Date: 9th March, 2016
Every now and again a series comes along that cuts a little too close to the bone. Right now, I’m reading Tokyo Ghost on a tablet, listening to music from my TV, with Twitter open on my phone, and writing a review on my laptop. That’s a whole lot of tech at once. That’s far too much tech. Not a day goes by without walking down the street and seeing people not paying attention because they’re looking at a phone. Couples sit at the same table, both with tech out, ignoring each other. I lived in my family home, where we would actually text each other from different rooms instead of having an actual conversation!
Remender and team take this a stage further with Tokyo Ghost. This is a world where people are jacked-in like it’s a drug. While not too far off the mark, the point is well made. We follow Debbie and her tech-addicted soul mate Teddy, also known as Constable Led Dent. Dent is what would happen if you jacked-up Dredd and mixed in some Robocop for good measure. In spite of all this, at its base, Tokyo Ghost is essentially a love story, Debbie just wants them to be tech free and safe. However, the story is so much more than that. With the addition of token “crazy baddie” Davey, it provides a stark look at where society is going and why we are taking our introversions too far. It’s not too far a stretch to say we are all Led Dent. Stuck, plugged into machines and being led like sheep.
Stylistically, it finds itself nestled between sci-fi like Akira and Blade Runner, with hints of Transmetropolitan, mixed with a harsh sense of serenity when the duo get out of the city. Murphy’s art style is absolutely perfect for the story, as his aggressive lines give a sense of chaos to it all, and a kinetic energy that makes every page flow so quickly. This is contrasted by some of the most beautiful splash pages of nature you’ll find in a comic book today, especially the later pages of the second issue.
Colourists tend to be the underappreciated heroes of comics, but Matt Hollingsworth deserves some sort of standing ovation for his work here, with every page popping thanks to his lush palette, and his use of more luminous colours for cityscapes making them look more futuristic. A perfect visual partnership, Hollingsworth makes the already incredible work of Murphy stand out that much more.
If I was to pick anything apart, it would be that, at times, it’s a little linear and preachy. However, these are minor niggles for something that feels so incredibly fresh and new in a world of capes and cowls. Messrs Remender, Murphy and Hollingsworth have created something truly special here, and I know for one that because of this book, and speaking to the team, I’ve spent a lot less time “jacked-in” and a lot more time with real people and things.
Tokyo Ghost is a very solid contender for book of the year already.
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