At long last, the final issue of Ghost Tree is nearing release. I've reviewed this series from beginning to end, and, looking back, I couldn’t be more glad that I did. Some comics exist purely for entertainment while others strive to become transformative in their medium. Ghost Tree sits comfortably in the latter column, alongside other comics I’ve reviewed such as A Girl in the Himalayas, Green River Killer, and Waves. It’s series like these that show what the comic book genre can truly do.
After spending the last story arc hopping through time and multiple universes and being introduced to some pretty esoteric and abstract world building, we jump back to the present, following Father Wilfred and Dr. Xu as they meet for the first time.
Fans of Shards: Volume 1 will be happy to see a second chapter for one of the stories in the first of two anthologies. In Place of Honor: Chapter One explores a world where wolves and ryders are seeking control in an ongoing war, while one wolf, Bennett, is captured and locked in chains in a cell. Not only does this character stay in wolf form for the majority of the first chapter, she ultimately has to watch other wolves being tortured and murdered, quite gruesomely, before escape is offered by an enemy that appreciates honor above horrifying prison tactics.
If there has been a theme in the past ten years of Dungeons & Dragons, it’s been the struggle to bring accessibility to general audiences. While the game has experienced tremendous growth and acceptance and is now truly bordering the mainstream market, it still suffers from one major detractor: D&D is a complicated game and has a high barrier to entry. Dungeons & Dragons: Monsters & Creatures and Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors & Weapons are the latest in a long line of innovations that attempt to convert the game into something more palatable.
Quick recap from the last issue: The gang’s all broken up. Jayne has been arrested, because the sheriff thinks he’s Wash. River and Simon are playing along / egging on that notion. Kaylee and Leonard have gone to join / save them while Wash, Inara, and Book are trying to catch up with Zoe. Meanwhile, Mal and Moon continue their odd couple shtick.
Between this issue and the last, the world of Joe Golem has somersaulted and ended upside down for good. There’s no going back. These issues were like the bullet to the head of Joe. In a way, it’s heroic - the re-birth of something greater to fight evil - but, at the same time, it’s deeply sad and almost tragic. I think anyone who has been reading the series knew this was eventually going to happen, but, as it was finally happening, my emotions were greatly conflicted.
Sons of Chaos is a neo-peplum graphic novel written by Chris Jaymes and illustrated by Ale Aragon (28 Days Later, Death Orb) about the beginning of the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s with a particular focus on Marcos Botsaris and his ascension to a Greek leader and national hero, and Ali Pasha of Ioannina, an Albanian who ruled much of Greece on behalf of the Ottoman Empire.
I have to admit that every time I see Cullen Bunn’s name on a series, I get excited. Here, he’s writing with Kyle Strahm who, up until this point, has been more of an artist working on series like Hack/Slash and Spread. Bunn is one of the best horror writers in comics right now, writing for almost every major publisher and going where the stories or collaborations take him. He’s such a freaking nerd about world building and lore that every one of his stories feels like they extend far beyond the reaches of the characters. He’s prolific and consistently wonderful.
The return of Bitter Root is one to be celebrated, especially with the Red Summer Special. With six short stories, we’re given an insight and history into each member of the Sangerye family and each of its members. What’s amazing isn’t just the new info that we learn about the Sangerye family's history, but what the future holds for the series.