There is so much to be said about Tokyo Ghost that it could take an entire semester in college Literature just to cover all of the hidden and not so hidden subtleties to Remender and Murphy’s techno-saga. Let’s just do a short list of the subtext that is being touched on within the pages of the 2nd graphic novel alone.
Technology vs. Nature
Man vs. Self
Man vs. Man
Independence vs. Conformity
The nature of insanity within dictators
What is reality?
Man vs. Machine
See what I mean? There are layers upon layers within this work and that short list barely scratches at the surface of what is hidden between the words and panels. This is a work that will be studied by Lit majors for the next two decades, thesis papers will be based on this subject matter, and the world that Remender has created here is so ripe for study and dissection that it begs to be read.
To try to give you a summary of all the events that take place in this volume is an impossible task. I can dumb it down to the point that it is a discredit to the work, or I can drone on and on about all of the meanings held within and everyone reading this review will check out. So I’ll boil it down to a single sentence with the expressed addition that this comic is soooo much more than the sum of its parts.
In a future where the public is jacked into a hyper-active version of the internet, the uber wealthy have spoiled the Earth and humanity with their greed and violence; our only hope for redemption lies within a pair of love-struck assassins who are trying to restore the balance of power and bring humanity back from the brink of disaster.
Like I said earlier; layers upon layers. The portion of the plot that stuck out to me is the segment about Flak and his dominion over this future version of L.A. He is hailed as a messiah by the masses because of his creation of this entertainment web that has ensnared most of the population, turning them into heartless, mindless junkies that only care for their next fix of media that is shot straight into their brains.
It’s Flak himself that reflects a certain Republican candidate for President. He is a narcissistic psychopath that has built his empire on the backs of the very down trodden he helped create. He views that the entire city owes him their very lives in thanks for saving them from their boring reality, all the while he has left a wake of death and destruction behind. Flak builds a floating palace on an aircraft carrier that is to become the new getaway for the mega-wealthy, where only the very rich and the very smart can play, the joke is that he sets off an I.Q. tester as he tries to board the ship. He plays it off as a joke, but also has the guards who witnessed his weakness executed.
That is just one small sub-plot to this 100+ page beast. There is so much more for readers to discover and that discovery is made into a stunning adventure by the visuals that Sean Murphy provides in every panel. If you have been following Murphy’s work through titles like “Punk Rock Jesus” and his recent stint at DC, then you know first-hand just what kind of brilliant story-teller we have here. In the pages of Tokyo Ghost you see Murphy use a hyper-kinetic, hyper-detailed style that takes every page to another level. It would be extremely easy for this comic to tank in the wrong artistic hands, with such a loaded plot; bad visuals could have been the death of this work. Instead the entire saga is taken to new heights thanks to a super star like Murphy at the helm.
I will say that this slice of the future is not for the easily offended. There are panels of gruesome violence and over-the-top sexuality through-out, so young readers are going to have to wait to age into this tale, because this is as mature as you can get.
Final Thoughts: Tokyo Ghost is a modern-day masterpiece that critics and fans will talk about for years to come.
Final Grade: 5 stars
Tokyo Ghost TP : Vol. 2- Come Join Us
Story: Rick Remender
Art: Sean Murphy
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Letters: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Collects Issues: Tokyo Ghost 6-10