Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Bobby Curnow
Artwork: Simon Gane
Colouring: Ian Herring, Becka Kinzie
Letters: Chris Mowry
Release Date: 24th April 2019
Returning to his ancestral home in Japan, Brandt seeks an escape from an unhappy and unfulfilled life. He is soon drawn into the dark woods of his childhood adventures where he discovers a haunted tree, and the ghosts that are drawn to it. Despite the urging of his grandfather to leave the woods and never return, Brandt finds comfort and beauty in the tree and its inhabitants and agrees to stay and hear their stories.
I love Japanese ghost stories, folk tales and mythology, and it’s refreshing to see a series set in Japan that isn’t either a samurai or cyberpunk story. As such, I really love the premise behind Bobby Curnow’s story, which seemingly brings all three elements together.
There have always been folk tales surrounding the woods of Japan, some more sinister than others; the stories surrounding Aokigahara probably being the most commonly known (most recently for being the site of an unusually high number of suicides). The Ghost or Yōkai trees come in many forms, from the benign and benevolent to the terrifying and malignant.
In this series, we have a place where spirits converge and congregate that seems peaceful and soothing and comforting but has a dark and sinister undercurrent just on the edge of perception. The most obviously sinister characters in this story will undoubtedly prove to be the least so, as is traditional, but there is a wonderful vagueness about their intent in this first issue that leaves you itching for the next chapter of the story.
The artwork in this issue is simply beautiful. Those of you who have read other reviews I’ve penned will be used to me droning on about architecture and scenery and landscapes but there is just something magical about someone who can draw trees well. Simon Gane draws trees very well. The rest of his artwork in this issue is pretty damned good as well. The watercolour technique gives a traditional feel to the artwork and ties everything together really well.
What I also thought worked really well were the panels that at first glance seem to be completely at rest but when you spend a moment looking you see lots of depth and little details that belie the simple beauty of the image.
As first issues go, this is intriguing without giving too much away. The artwork is great and the narrative is written with a gentle touch that I hope promises some chilling developments in the coming issues.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek