Review – Ghost Cage #1 (Image Comics)
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer(s): Nick Dragotta, Caleb Goellner
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Letterer: Russ Wooten
Release Date: 23rd March 2022
One super-scientist has revolutionised the control of all energy on Earth, forming a giant Megacorp “OHM” to feed the world’s needs. When his headquarters and powerplant come under attack from terrorists, he despatches his ultimate creation to regain control, assisted by… a low-level tech support assistant? What could possibly go wrong?
Image has long been one of the top publishers in the industry, and for me arguably better than anything the Big Two produce. And, when you combine that pedigree with the talents of Nick Dragotta and Caleb Goellner, the end result is a series which has the potential to be something very special indeed.
The story itself is an allegory of Humanity’s self-destructive nature in its thirst for power and consumption, but with the inclusion of protagonists with real heart and soul it actually ends up being quite uplifting. There are many tropes that are instantly recognisable, from the downtrodden, underappreciated, and underestimated minion to the megalomaniacal evil wizard, the “child of destiny”, and the Titans that must be overcome on their quest as they head to the Wizard’s Lair.
I’m on a bit of a Manga kick at the moment, so much so that I’ve just had to buy a new bookcase to keep up with how fast I’m consuming them, and as a result when I saw the preview pages for Ghost Cage, it immediately ticked an awful lot of boxes for me. If you’ve read East of West then you know the kind of artwork you’re in for, but this issue, with its black & white inks, has a huge Manga vibe and it really shows In the attention to detail in the design work. There are a lot of little flourishes in the artwork that aren’t immediately apparent but well worth keeping an eye out for. For example, I thought the company logo worked into Doyle’s hood was a nice touch that I missed on the first read through.
Without giving too much away, the main antagonists we see in this issue are avatars of various types of power. So “Coal” is a fossilised Giant corpse, “Hydro” is a tidal wave steered by the avatar of an ancient deep-sea diver… you get the idea. These Titans serve to show how insignificant our protagonists are, but at the same time amplify how two such small creatures can shape and change a world. It is testament to the craft of this team that within the first 44 pages of this series, they’ve created characters that I genuinely like and feel for.
The grand architect of the trials of Doyle and Sam is something of an amalgamation of Saruman the White, Agent Smith, and (in a somewhat out of left field move) Chester V from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. I mean that with no disrespect for the character, he’s suitably Machiavellian, and I think at the heart of the story, his disdain for humanity is more than well founded, but there’s also that slightly comical egocentricity (and lots of awful puns and jingoism) about him that really reminded me of Chester.
This limited series is being presented to us in three 44-page oversized issues, so the story has some room to breathe and develop. I’m already kind of sad that this is going to be such a short run, and I’ll wait to see what the next two issues bring us before passing judgement on that, but I’d really like to see (non-cowl & cape) publishers taking the plunge and invest in more longer running series. Ok, yes, we have the return of SAGA which is awesome, but there’s not enough series that go past five issues these days, let alone twelve or more.
This title ticks all the boxes for me. The story is great, the artwork is superb, the design and pacing are strong, the antagonists are incredible and while (for the most part) not necessarily evil, are certainly worthy of the name Titan. The heroes are plucky, indefatigable, and I think this series is going to hit you in the feels so many times over the next three issues.
Buy this comic, just add it to your list, it’s great fun and so well delivered.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek
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