There is nothing about the synopsis to Rick Remender and Sean Murphy’s new series Tokyo Ghost that doesn’t sound holier-than-thou.
In the future, tech has become the new narcotic and the populous are so addicted to the non-stop stimuli of sex and violence on demand that even the actual sex and violence happening around them can’t peel their eyes from monitors that obfuscate their entire field of view. At face value Tokyo Ghost seems like another rant from a disillusioned old man going on about how we’re more connected and more isolated than ever before and complaining about everyone checking their phones at dinner while puffing out his chest defiantly to show off a cellphone he still has from 2004.
I can assure you it’s not.
Remender and Murphy take an idea that could have so easily been another “smart phones are bad” P.S.A. and run with it, concocting an original, frenetic world that moves at a breakneck pace.
The debut issue finds cyberpunk protagonists Led Dent and Debbie Decay (did I mention cyberpunk?) in the final act of a one last job flick, dropping the reader into the climax of a story that has been unfolding without them. It’s a smart, disorienting narrative choice that adds to the chaotic nature of the hyper-violent ride ahead. And what a ride it is.
Tokyo Ghost succeeds where other thematically similar stories stagger because it doesn’t let it’s cultural commentary take the wheel. Remender’s script has something to say, but it never resorts to preaching. No one in Tokyo Ghost is turning to the camera and declaring “this is your brain on tech.” Those ideas are certainly present, but they’re never looking down at the reader with condescension.
At its core the first issue of Tokyo Ghost is a love story told through a chase sequence, and Remender and Murphy understand that that’s a narrative skeleton that doesn’t need a bunch of extraneous appendixes. They exhibit a single-minded focus on making a good comic book that frees Tokyo Ghost from the trappings so many other dystopian stories stumbled into. By not beating the reader over the head with its arguments it allows the reader to arrive at a conclusion on their own, one far more poignant than any professorial lecture could have been.
If you’re looking to get in on the ground floor of a substantive sci-fi book now is your chance. Look no further than Tokyo Ghost.