Strong Style and Story
Mark Crilley’s six-volume series Brody’s Ghost had me in my chair from early afternoon till late afternoon. I’d read the first volume in paperback form years ago and was stunned by Crilley’s intense art style and deft control of the plot. When I found all six volumes in a collected edition, I had to read the rest of the story.
Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Though I did have some reservations.
What I Thought Worked Well
Characters and Plot
Brody and Talia, protagonist and sidekick ghost, carry the mystery-thriller narrative at a roller-coaster pace to the very end. But what I love about them as characters is that they neither of them is completely good or completely bad, and each of them has clear motivations propelling them throughout the story. Without giving too much away, the characters in Brody’s Ghost are not manic pixie dream girls or cardboard cutouts. They will do whatever it takes to get what they want — whether it’s lying to other characters or burning their possessions, and it makes for great storytelling.
Style and Theme
The strength of Crilley’s art style really comes out in the landscapes every few pages or so. Set in a futuristic “neo-Tokyo” (though I’m not sure why Brody hands a guy an American $20 bill on one panel), technology has come far in Brody’s time. However, the first panel of the graphic novel opens with him surrounded by trash. Outside is no better; litter huddles against the curb. In a bold move, the setting’s style blends with the theme of Brody’s suffocating grief and how he must overcome it.
But as for the reservations I had… yes. They do deal with the setting itself.
What I Thought Didn’t Work Well
Part of me wished that Brody interacted with the setting more. In the sky, there are floating cars. But on the ground, he makes use of a regular motorcycle in the climactic part of the story. Part of me wondered if it was a deliberate choice to have Brody ride a vehicle that was not futuristic as a symbol of his past catching up to him, and part of me wondered if it was out of convenience. The setting was so on point that I wondered how much work it would do through the rest of the story, but I found that it didn’t do as much as I thought it would.
Regardless, Brody’s Ghost has strong visuals and a strong story, and that’s all that I can really ask for in a graphic novel. My high standards should not affect your enjoyment of series. I’m looking forward to Crilley’s other works in the meantime.