Ghost Spy #1
Writer: Steve Albertson
Artist: Jacob Elijah
are times when I want to cry out from the rooftops that
comics are a unique and powerful medium generating all the
inspiration movies, television, and video games latch onto
and exploit these days.
is not one of them.
the situation seems a bit reversed here.
Spy starts us off in a post-apocalyptic cyberpunk world
of tomorrow. A pair of killer cyborgs (though one may be
a man covered in gadgets while the other’s just a
robot) launch missile loaded with anthrax at the local water
treatment plant, but Keico, bounty hunter for hire, manages
to take one of them down and nab the missile before it impacts.
next day, her boss forces her on yet another mission with
a pair of bumbling robot bounty hunters: A precious cargo
needs to be escorted through the most war-torn area of town.
Unfortunately, a major battle with tanks and heavy artillery
just broke out, and there’s no way around it.
the get-go, Ghost Spy’s title had me thinking
of Ghost in the Shell. You’ve got your robots,
you’ve got your tanks, you’ve got your giant
techno-city; what else do you need?
actually, a bit more story would’ve been nice. As
is, the issue roughly breaks down into two action scenes
and two significant conversations that still don’t
really tell us what the hell is going on.
is that mean lone wolf type of hero rather true to the main
archetype of futuristic bounty hunters. But what do we really
know about her after this first issue? She’s a smart
efficient killing machine? Great. I think we got that much
from the cover. So, where’s the characterization?
Other characters pop in and out of the story to further
the plot along or flesh her out a little more with dialogue,
yet it still doesn’t add up to much.
I can accept a book that’s pure plot, a story like
this that’s pure action needs better paneling and
fight choreography. Jacob Elijah’s art has a great
euro/manga/punk/toon look to it, but I found myself reading
numerous pages over and over again to figure out what just
happened. Characters seem to move insane distances between
some panels and the shots tend more toward parallel viewpoints
rather than true continuity of action during the fights.
If you read it over a few times, it eventually makes sense,
but it’s just not the kind of visual language we’re
used to (good luck finding it in your copy of Scott McCloud’s
Understanding Comics) and will end up confusing
the hell out of readers.
concepts for most scenes seem lifted from cyberpunk literature
in general and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone/Complex
and The Road Warrior specifically. For years now
I’ve been saying that we need more tank battles in
all entertainment mediums, but if you’re gonna do
it right, you have to focus on the three main traits of
tanks: speed, armor, and firepower. The “battle”
in Ghost Spy serves more as a chase scene than
a slugfest, but I still can’t forgive them using tanks
with turrets that never traverse. Honestly, what’s
the point of having a turret if you don’t turn the
damn thing around to fire?
I completely trash this comic, though, let me say that the
art caught my eye right away and makes a great case for
this euro/manga/comic hybrid style we’re seeing more
and more of these days. The characters have an elastic quality
that heightens the visceral feel of the action, and the
technology comes off as futuristic yet practical. The color
assists by Barret Smith and Mark Tyrrell and additional
production by Noel Jacob elevate the work beyond the typical
black and white or grayscale work of this style and really
make it come to life.
it were a stronger story that didn’t depend so much
on the trappings of its parent genres. I’d like the
book to succeed, but, unless the story develops in the next
issue, it’ll be hard to stay with it.