Friday, November 7, 2014

Review - The Ghost Fleet #1


"This is not how our story begins."

In today's world, there are scary people. Scary people who dabble in scarier things. Protecting those people typically attracts another type of a person. A person who's really good at not asking questions and defending what they're tasked with defending. Missions don't always go according to plan though and things fall apart in a hurry in The Ghost Fleet #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Lauren Affe and lettered by Lincoln Hawk.

Ward and Chase are partners. They also act as The Ghost Fleet, the outfit you call when your cargo needs a particular amount of care and attention. Things go about as expected for cargo as dangerous and valuable as what's in the big rig they're protecting. And once they're the target of an attack things, only get worse as they're likely to do in those situations. When one of the world’s most elite combat-trained truckers takes a forbidden peek at his payload, he uncovers a conspiracy that will change his life forever.

For a book that's about highly-trained operatives defending a convoy traveling at high speeds, Cates doesn't hesitate to make the story just as frenetic. It's both a blessing and a curse though in the case of The Ghost Fleet #1. On the one hand, the madcap action lends itself well to the cacophony of explosions and bloodshed that litter the pages of the book. On the other hand, because Cates drops the reader right into the thick of things, there's dialogue that feels as if it's forcing backstory for the sake of the bigger picture. The book also takes some rather strange leaps through time to give an even bigger picture of what's happened, what's happening and what's going to happen. It's a little scattershot in some regards, even though Cates clearly has a destination in mind for where there story will end up.

A book that relies on chaos to thrive is only as good as the graphic depictions of that chaos and Johnson certainly doesn't disappoint. His work is very gritty and frenetic, capturing the rage and violence very well. The massive big rig being shepherded through the danger feels as if it's a live behemoth slumbering down the interstate, smashing its way through any obstacle. The violence is depicted in a way that feels over the top for sure, but it's not so gory that you forget you're reading a comic. Affe's color palette feels like a great fit for the action as well, with the book full of oranges and reds that seem to underscore the intense violence the characters are subjected to.

The Ghost Fleet #1 is a really interesting premise that feels like it falls a little short in the first issue. The stakes are definitely raised and there's a twist at the end, but the fact is that the story moves so quickly there's really not much in the way of an emotional investment. Cates puts the reader where and when he wants them, which will likely pay off down the road, but for the time being, it makes the story feel a little disjointed. Johnson's illustrations are the right amount of pulp and grit, offering a glimpse into the less than glamorous lifestyle of protecting dangerous cargo and the reasons for the danger. The Ghost Fleet #1 is a hectic first issue that could be the start of a much more fascinating story down the line.

The Ghost Fleet #1 is in stores now with interiors below.






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