I wish I had a more inspired rationale for why I choose the comics I’m going to read. Many are either properties I already like or recommendations from other fans. When it comes to finding new works, I tend to choose based on the cover and title. The one good thing about this is that I often go into stories with little to no expectations which is exactly how I approached Ghost Tree #1.
Ghost Tree, as far as I can tell from this first issue, is about a Japanese man named Brandt who is living in America. When Brandt was young, his grandfather showed him the titular Ghost Tree in their ancestral home in Japan and left Brandt with the cryptic instructions to return to that spot ten years after he has passed away. Flash forward to the present, and Brandt returns home to fulfill his grandfather’s dying request while also avoiding his own personal demons back in America. All of these events are presided over by a mysterious spirit in green robes.
I can’t say much more about the plot from there; this first issue mostly lays groundwork and background for a larger narrative. When it comes to first issues, I try not to judge them as a completed work but as a hook to pull me into the world. In that regard, I think Ghost Tree is successful. The small hints we get at the more supernatural elements of the story are intriguing, especially the spirit in the green robes. I found myself frustrated that more didn’t happen in this first issue, but I think that just means I’m curious to read the next.
I’m usually pulled into comics more by their stories than by their artwork, but in the case of Ghost Tree, I found the reverse to be true. The artwork is understated. It doesn’t feel overly detailed or too simplistic. It has a nice balance between the more extreme styles that can often frustrate me.
Skimming through the book quickly, you’re likely to miss the truly brilliant details in this book. There’s subtle symbolism like Brandt wearing very similar outfits when he encounters the ghost tree as a child and as an adult, but the best part of this book is its use of color. When Brandt is in cold, urban environments everything is tinted blue and gray, but when he enters the forest that houses the ghost tree, the colors shift to green and yellow. Interestingly, the color red barely appears in the comic. By my count, red is used only twice in the entire book.
Ghost Tree #1 has piqued my interest. I’m not going to say this first issue was revolutionary, but it certainly got me wondering where they’re going to take the story, and the beautiful artwork hints at a deeper symbolic meaning to everything we see here at the beginning. My honest advice would be to wait until three or four issues are out, because this first one won’t be enough to really dig into the narrative that they’re creating. That being said, I’ve got some high hopes about how things will develop in later issues.
Creative Team: Bobby Curnow (Writer), Simon Gane (Artist), Ian Herring (Colorist), Becka Kinzie (Colorist), Chris Mowry (Letterer), Takuma Okada (Consultant)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Click here to purchase.