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"Ghost Tree #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by IDW Publishing

Ghost Tree 1 00

Written by Bobby Curnow
Illustrated by Simon Gane
Colored by Ian Herring with Becka Kinzie
Lettered by Chris Mowry
2019, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 24th, 2019

Review:

When he was a boy, Brandt made two promises to his grandfather. One was to cherish his childhood. The other was to visit him under a family tree ten years after he died. Somehow this isn't as weird as some people's grandparents. Fast forward to the present and Brandt is pulled back home where he meets the ghost of his grandfather and discovers his family's link to this place and the afterlife.

The difference between Brandt as a child and as an adult is staggering. He's full of imagination and wonder when he's a kid. Anything can happen as he plays in the yard. That's all gone when he grows up. Brandt has been beaten down by the world. Life has not gone his way and he's looking for purpose. He might have found it in the woods near his home.

Artist Simon Gane does a great job establishing the normalcy of this world. When the ghosts and creatures of the forest appear, it comes as a bit of a shock. This is a twist like those in Stephen King novels, taking the ordinary and adding the supernatural to it in a normal way.

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Click images to enlarge

The ghost, as seen on the cover of the book, is super creepy. Its outfit helps as it's a long cloak with a hood. What really sets it on edge is the face. It doesn't really have one. Instead, there's a big hole in the center of where its face should be. Since we can't see its eyes or any sort of facial expression, it creates an eerie, unnatural look whenever it appears.

We're introduced to this ghost in a quiet, subtle way, but it's no less alarming. It's like something that appears out of the corner of your eye. Brandt has to question what he's seeing, but we have the luxury of pouring over Gane's artwork to see every detail.

Colorist Ian Herring, aided by Becka Kinzie, add to that sense of normalcy invaded by the supernatural. This is a quaint, peaceful place. It could be anyone's backyard. Many of us played in forests just like these growing up and we probably had all kinds of imaginative adventures there. What if they were real? What if there were really strange creatures lurking there in the shadows?

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Click images to enlarge

When Brandt eventually gets to the tree, he's able to speak to the ghost of his grandfather, who has gained an interesting perspective on life now that he's dead. Letterer Chris Mowry uses light blue word balloons in a shaky frame to give the specter's voice an otherworldly vibe.

The discussion here is an intriguing one. Writer Bobby Curnow fills this scene with compelling dialogue as the old man has 20/20 hindsight in this. He realizes the mistakes he made in life and warns his grandson to try and avoid them, but it might be too late. This is a touching sequence that's full of heart and mystery.

Ghost Tree has the look and feel of a great Neil Gaiman story. It resonates in a way that few books do, reaching both the inner child and the jaded adult. It's horror in that it deals with ghosts and the supernatural, but the real terror comes in the everyday fears that we all have. Ghost Tree brings those to the surface in an almost uncomfortable way.

Grades:

Story: Fivestars Ghost Tree 1 Small
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Art: Fivestars
Overall: Fivestars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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