Independently Well Done highlights completed and/or noteworthy story-arcs published by indie and small press creators.
Tokyo Ghost: #1-10
Written By: Rick Remender
Art By: Sean Gordon Murphy
Published: March 2016 – August 2016, by Image Comics
Here we are once again, with a brand new Indie Well Done. I’ve talked about this series a couple times as the story progressed, but I was anxiously awaiting for the end just so I could lose my mind over the entire thing. What series am I talking about? Well, none other than Remender and Murphy’s “Tokyo Ghost,” by Image Comics.
This ten issue series has been one of the best, if not claiming the title of best, sci-fi comics to be released this year. I know I talk a lot about sci-fi comics, and all of them I boost here on the blog are fantastic, but Tokyo Ghost delivers something special. This book has managed to bring topnotch issue after topnotch issue for ten consecutive books. There isn’t any particular issue in this series that isn’t delivering an impactful, thought provoking, character driven powerhouse of a story, and all of it wrapped together simply creates my vote for best sci-fi series this year. Each book managed to bring the best of the best, and I for one am pissed it’s over…I could’ve read this book forever. With all that hype aside, lets get into why this series was just so amazing to read.
First off, the art, I mean seriously, every page of this series could be flipped into a freaking poster it’s so good. I don’t know how Sean Gordon Murphy managed to knock out these pages with the efficiency he did, because this book was hitting shelves every month without fail. Yet, each and every month we were given beautiful artwork, story driven paneling, emotional characters, stunning architecture, breathtaking backgrounds, and some of the best action sequences I’ve seen in comics. Murphy is a flippin art genius or something.
Seriously, this guy managed to develop a post apocalyptic world with both the beauty of nature and the dirty filth of a world gone crazy. There are scenes within these pages that are filled with gorgeous scenery, and brilliant, vibrant life. The color work by Hollingsworth takes the already stellar art of Murphy and just cranks it up to eleven. Then, just a couple pages later, this wombo-combo artist and colorist team drag you into the slums of a world given into being addicted. You can nearly feel the grime and disgust of the streets and alleys. A darkness lingers over the city streets, and the tinge of neon signs illuminates only the worst of it. Honestly, everything about the art and coloring of this series not only delivered but enhanced the spectacular story brought to us by Remender, and what a story it was.
There have been only a few times this year that a story has left me with a moment of wonder. Sure, there have been many books that have caused me to reread them, or blurt out some phrase of astonishment. Yet, Tokyo Ghost took that same level of storytelling and with each issue escalated the stakes for the characters, the world in which they live, and eventually brought it all to a place where nothing was safe or sacred. Too often in stories like this the main characters have their lives threatened, but we the readers know they’ll escape, or at worst, they’ll die and be brought back in a couple months somehow. Yet, in a series like Tokyo Ghost, no one is safe. Any character can die, every plot point can get flipped on its head, every direction the story can go has the ability to make a sharp turn and leave us, the readers, guessing. Remender understands this, and he uses it to its fullest extent to create memorable moments, and pivotal scenes that left me in astonishment.
Now, with all of that stated, you might be saying, “That’s great…but what the frick is this series about?” Well, let me tell you, what we have in this ten issue series is a couple that’s in love. However, they aren’t your normal, everyday couple, they are in fact, a severely messed up couple, that’s trying to survive in a world wherein everything has gone down the toilet. The world as we know it is now lived primarily on the internet. Not the internet that we know today, but instead is this virtual world wherein you literally hook your brain up to it and live within. People are flooded with sensory overload, and the stimuli it delivers has become the greatest drug to ever hit the populace.
One such addict is one half of our couple, a guy known as Dent, who is a behemoth of a man, and a juggernaut of pain and destruction when he needs to be, which due to his job, is often. Dent works as a sort of police/enforcer for those dishing out the internet to gaping maws of the masses. Now, while nearly everyone is addicted to this virtual world, there’s still a minor need for things like food and water, so people do traverse the real world, albeit barely, and those that do usually do so at that their own peril.
For those dwelling in the real world, crime and mayhem pretty much rule the world. Gangs and internet slingers have literally taken over all the major cities of the world. As such, they make use of a guy like Dent who has a nearly zero moral compass. I say nearly zero because Dent only cares about two things in the world: his internet fix, and his lady Debbie, our other main character.
Debbie hates the internet. She’s seen the destruction its caused, and of course, because she’s messed up and makes horrible decisions, she falls in love with a man who murders for drug dealers, just to get his fix. To call these two love birds co-dependent would be the understatement of the century, yet somehow Remender makes it endearing. The world is such a crap-hole, that when we observe this extremely unhealthy relationship it’s almost immediately countered by the fact that the world in which they live is so much more unhealthy that we don’t even care about this max level codependency. What follows is a story of Debbie trying to get herself and Dent away from all of the mess. She wants a real life with Dent, and due to his overwhelming love for her, he’s willing to go internet free just to be with her. Unfortunately for the two of them, there are some people in power that have other plans for the both of them, and they’ll go to the ends of the world to accomplish these rather nefarious plans.
As I said, if I were to cast a vote on best sci-fi comic of the year, hands down I would vote for this a hundred times before I would suggest another sci-fi book. I’m not calling any of the others bad, because they aren’t, but Tokyo Ghost is just that good. Do yourself a favor and pick up, at the very least, Vol 1, which is the first half of the story. It’s a somewhat self contained arc, that also sets up Vol 2, but is absolutely worth reading even if you never intend to read the rest…which you should because its great. Don’t you like great comics?