A little while back, I reviewed Ghost Tree #1. It served as a strong introduction to the story, with strong color design and a slick Japanese influence. If I had one complaint, it would have been that the actual narrative was a little sparse, laying a lot of groundwork but not a ton of payoff. That isn’t uncommon for first issues of a new series, so I waited patiently to see if the second issue could follow through on the promise of the first.
If you didn’t read the first issue (or my review of it), Ghost Tree follows Brandt, a young man who has returned to his ancestral home in Japan and discovered that he can speak to ghosts. Guided by the spirit of his grandfather, Brandt gets tangled up in the unfinished business of the ghosts that linger around the titular ghost tree in the forest behind his house.
Issue #1 may have been a little light on story, but issue #2 makes up for it in spades. With the table setting taken care of, the writer is able to develop the overarching mystery surrounding Brandt’s family, the spirits and demons of the forest, and the ghost tree’s protector: Zero. Visuals are also bumped up considerably with a fun action scene near the middle of the comic adding some much needed energy.
The influences of not just Japanese mythology but culture permeate the entire book. Brandt’s interactions with his family are steeped in the traditions of respect and reserve. You can sense in every page the respect for Japanese culture without the need to get bogged down in specific rituals and traditions.
In my first review, I talked at length about how the first issue used grays, greens, and the absence of red to convey interesting ideas about urban vs rural life. In Ghost Tree #2, a new theme emerges. Demons and menacing spirits are illustrated in stark purples and reds, even turning the forest around them into an autumnal wasteland, but when Zero returns to protect the ghost tree the palette switches back to the book’s signature greens and yellows. The visual language subconsciously puts the reader on edge through color choice, and it remains one of the most impactful elements of Ghost Tree.
I recommended the first issue of Ghost Tree based on that book’s promise of a deep and interesting world. I’m pleased to say that Ghost Tree #2 delivered exactly that. A mystery is unfolding within its pages, and it makes me excited to see where this team takes its story. Now, we can only hope that later issues will continue to build the momentum that these first two issues have conjured.
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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