We’re back for round three of the Japanese ghost story known as Ghost Tree. I reviewed issues #1 and #2 a while back. Going in, I knew nothing about the series, only picking it up because of the appealing cover. I’ve since grown to love this series for its brilliant use of color and sincere look at Japanese culture. Ghost Tree #2 ramped up the intrigue and pacing, so Ghost Tree #3 needed to keep that momentum going if it was going to live up to the first half of this story.
If you haven’t been reading Ghost Tree, it follows a young man named Brandt as he returns to his grandparents’ home in Japan to escape his marital struggles in America. There, he discovers his unique ability to commune with ghosts and a mystery surrounding the titular ghost tree and the spirits who linger there. The book is filled with an interesting mix of Japanese mythology and the struggles of a modern-day family trying to find happiness.
Ghost Tree #3 has some of the best writing in the whole series. It takes a decidedly slower pace, taking time to look at the emotional states of the main characters which gives much-needed character development for the whole cast. The supernatural elements take a back seat for the first half of the issue but return in bombastic fashion near the end. A comic is doing something right when you reach the last page and are struck with the devastating realization that you now have to wait to hear what happens next.
On the flip side, the visuals remain strong but have taken a hit since the first issue. Character expressions were great, especially in some emotional scenes involving the grandfather and his relationship with his family. Unfortunately, I felt that the use of color that was so impressive in the first two issues was lacking. The color scheme was still appealing, but it felt less deliberate than before. It still uses lots of greens and yellows to great effect, but, unlike before, I felt like I wasn’t garnering more information from the story through color.
Ghost Tree #3 ends with a “to be concluded,” leading me to believe that issue #4 will be the last. I’m truly impressed with the tale that the team behind Ghost Tree has executed in just three issues, and it’ll be bittersweet to see the story wrapped up. With that in mind, I think the entire Ghost Tree series is worth picking up, and I hope that the final issue manages to stick the landing.
Creative Team: Bobby Curnow (Writer), Simon Gane (Artist), Ian Herring (Colorist), Becka Kinzie (Colorist), Chris Mowry (Letterer), Takuma Okada (Consultant)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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