Saturday, September 19, 2015

Comic Review: Tokyo Ghost #1

The only comics I've read by Rick Remender are this and Low, and both have given me the impression that I do not like what he writes. He's not the only creator, but there are similarities deeper than just the writing. A lot of people like him, but so far I have not, and Tokyo Ghost does nothing to make me want to come back for another issue.

What bother me is that Tokyo Ghost and Low both have interesting ideas behind them. Unfortunately, those ideas are not clear in the story. The best explanation of them comes from a letter at the end, thanking people for reading and talking about developing the comic. I like these letters, a staple of Image comics, but it should not do a better job of explaining the story than the comic does. I wouldn't want the story bogged down in exposition, but that doesn't mean never make reference to things so that the reader feels lost. I've written about this problem before, in my review of Sons of the Devil, and it just sticks out as bad storytelling.

The art is just as messy and unclear as the story. While it fits the dystopian setting, it sacrifices a lot of clarity. As an example, one early scene is so messily drawn that I spent half the book getting names wrong because there was no way to easily distinguish one character from another. Add to that confusion in the dialogue, and it took me until the end of the book to straighten out who was who.

Perhaps most damning, it's preachy. I don't think the creators are technophobes, but the book leans heavily in that direction. It's about how technology changes people, mostly for the worse. I disagree with that idea, there are positive and negatives, but it's not about agreeing with the message. Even when I agree with someone, being preachy is the fastest way to lose me completely, and when everyone using technology in the story is treated as hopeless or a joke, it edges too far into preachy, even if it wasn't intended.

I don't like disliking things, but this issue didn't give me much to like. It was confusing, unclear, and preachy when it was clear. All that taken together adds up to something I have no interest in reading more of.

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