BIN SIFTIN’ with Rene LeClair: TOKYO GHOST #1

Tokyo Ghost #1 – Image Comics

Writer/ Rick Remender  Artist/ Sean Murphy

I’ve been looking forward to this title since it was announced a few months ago. I was immediately interested when the promo art had this nasty biker dude on a hot rod, street Ski-Doo looking metal sled. I mean, come on. First thing that came to mind was the awesome bikes in Akira. I kept trying to refer people to the title, but kept calling it Tokyo Pop, which didn’t seem right and it wasn’t.

That nasty biker dude is Led Dent and the girl with the high-powered rifle on the back of the “bike” is Debbie Decay. I guess he’d be considered her “old man.” They’re also a partners in another way, acting as Constables in a decayed society.

The world is royally screwed. Corporations control everything and everything is the peddling of  cyber drugs. The world is filled with internet addicted Tokyo Ghost #1aunemployed masses, all of whom will do anything for their digital fix. Getting a buzz has become the most important thing and the only reason to live. It is therefore the only business that matters and when the corporate bosses need to enforce some rules on society’s denizens, out come the Constables.

Debbie Decay dreams of a better life and who wouldn’t in her case. All she’s got left in this crap world is Led. On Led’s side, other than explosive moments of Keith Giffen style Lobo comics’ exaggerated level of power violence when he’s lucid, he’s pretty much zoned out on the internet feeds beamed directly into his helmet, feeding his habit. I’d say he’s the fixer upper in this relationship, but they both had a dream at one point. That dream was to get away from it all. Disconnect from everything and set out for the Garden Nation of Tokyo, the last tech-less place on earth. They’ll finally be able to accomplish their goal, once this final contract is done. It won’t be easy. Their target is Davey Trauma.

To say Davey is tech savvy would be a huge misunderstatement. He’s a net wizard of the highest order and mass murderering sadist at heart. In a time when the world-wide web is a crutch to all, and all are jacked in, what is a nerdy criminal sadist to do, but live life to its fullest, treating the world as the stage for the most violent of video games.

The first issue sets up what seems to be a fast paced ongoing comic series, as Led and Debbie accidentally run into their prey and he let’s loose with Inspector Gadget like toys. He’s got joysticks and keyboards and goggles that act as “first person” on-screen display that keeps track of what level he’s on and his current statistics. Since most people have a “nanopac in ’em” to connect to Tokyo Ghost #1bthe internet feeds, Davey can completely take over anyone’s mind and body and use them as “extra lives” in his endless quest to level up and beat his personal death-match kill count high-score. So yeah, getting to Tokyo won’t be easy.

When two of my faves are teaming up for a project, that is something to take notice of and I’m glad I did. I wasn’t disappointed with this comic in any way. I’ve followed Sean Murphy’s art here and there over the years, and his work is never a disappointment. Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison was a great story about a teen with type 1 diabetes and in those moments when his blood sugar is too low, he starts to hallucinate himself into a fantastic Lord of the Rings/Dungeons & Dragons type world where his toys are alive and life-size and fighting a great war against an ever-present danger. Sean Murphy’s visual adaptation of Morrison’s ideas were perfect, as Joe attempts to survive in this savage, war ravaged fantasy land, a parallel world somehow tied to his own house and his ultimate quest to make it down to the kitchen to get some juice. Sean’s also done some brilliant work on several mini-series such as Punk Rock Jesus and The Wake by DC’s Vertigo and currently working on Chrononauts By Image Comics with the ever popular Mark Millar.

Rick Remender, the scribing side of this comic book creating partnership, has quickly become one of my go to comic writers. His Uncanny X-Force series shouldn’t be passed over as Wolverine found himself in command of a top-secret X-Men black-ops death squad. Wolvie’s team consisted of himself along TokyoGhost01_Preview_Pagewith Psylock, Deadpool, Angel/Archangel and introduced me to Fantomex, one of the coolest Marvel characters to date. In this story, Apocalypse has been reborn and this time, he was secreted away as a young child and spent his childhood being raise by good, down to earth folks, apart from all the corruption in the world, in an attempt to steer him on a path of goodness. Fearing the worst is inevitable, X-Force are tasked with killing the child anyway in a preemptive attempt to prevent the forseeable death of countless people. It IS Apocalypse we’re talking about here. There’s no denying his true nature, right? There are so many great moments in this story, it is just nuts. Remender’s also written quite a few other great stories over the years like Marvel Now’s Captain America and Uncanny Avengers as Deadly Class, Low and Black Science for Image Comics. Of course let’s not forget the awesome space pulp comic Fear Agent (where my band’s name comes from: www.fearagent.bandcamp.com, Heheheh.) for Dark Horse Comics.

Tokyo Ghost’s story is grim, but fun. The action is piled high, and the visuals, reminiscent of early Tank Girl type art with a good dose of Lobo, as mentioned above, comes through in Sean’s style. Bear witness to an awesome level of background detail that shows up only when you’re in the presence of a master. Matt Hollingsworth’s colour palate is not only superb, but the comic wouldn’t be as good without him. I didn’t want to forget the colourist, as often enough, we all focus on the pencils/inks, but not the colours, and that is a shame.

Debbie and Led are sure to have their hands full trying to capture Davey Trauma, and if everything goes as planned, their subsequent and no doubt arduous journey to Tokyo. Next month’s issue can’t come out fast enough.

Tokyo Ghost #1 is out this week. – RENE

(Rene LeClair is an avid comic book reader and works at Comic Hunter in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, spreading the word to all who love comics as well.  He is also a fantastic musician who currently plays with a great band called FEAR AGENT.  Rene has been at his music for years, including stints with Longtimers, Four Frames, and the amazing Dead City Rebels.  At the Comic Hunter (Moncton/Charlottetown) they easily have the biggest selection in the Maritimes for all your nerdy needs. They specialize in comic books w/ over 250k back issues, an immense library of graphic novels as well as a seemingly endless selection of board/card games. Whether you find yourself that side of Quebec or not, they’ll ship anywhere. Visit their website and contact them here.)