Tokyo Ghost Volume 1: The Atomic Garden is a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk, science-fiction comic book series written by Rick Remender (Black Science, Low) and illustrated by Sean Gordon Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus). It follows the exploits of two constables that are charged with helping a local gang leader maintain his monopoly on providing a digital fix to literal techno-junkies.
I had such high expectations for this series, at the very least for the first volume. The premise sounded intriguing, regardless of being clichéd, and upon an initial glance the illustrations were very mesmerising. But the introductory volume failed to deliver in almost every way that you could possibly think of.
While the artwork is extremely beautiful, it can be aesthetically overwhelming with all of the details. There is also so much information slammed into every page. Most of the references and world-building is in the exquisitely tiny details woven into the backdrops. If you don’t pay careful attention, you can miss so much of the humour and atmosphere, leaving the story a bit bare-boned.
The subject matter is a serious and provocative examination on how the obsession with technology turns people into cyber-addicts whose every single whim is delivered to them digitally. What could have been an extraordinarily fascinating narrative is diluted with terribly predictable motifs and implementation. The story has a villain who claims to let go of his hold on a small group of people if they carry out task so and so. Yet, when the task is completed he goes back on his word. SHOCKING. There are other scenes where our protagonists are fighting their own demons, however, a trigger causes one of them to give into their darkest desires and, MORE SHOCK FACTOR, all hell breaks loose. These were unnecessary and really killed any excitement of suspenseful tension that the storyline could have held.
The comic intelligently complains and pokes fun of the whole superhero motif that is very popular within the medium, and then proceeds to adapt every single particle of said trope that inevitably leads it to becoming a superhero fiction. This would be acceptable and refreshing if it were done with satirical flavour, but it was not.
This is my biggest fucking issue with the comic: the romanticism of Japanese samurai and Bushido. Can people seriously stop using samurai in their comics if all they are going to do is portray them incorrectly and keep spitting out these highly fetishised ideals about what the samurai were? I’m so fucking tired of it. It’s IMMENSELY overdone and needs to be put to rest. I’m also tired of watching Japanese characters being killed off so some white person can fly into their position, steal with their culture, and become a saviour for other Japanese people. Fuck you and your white saviour complex. Just… fucking stop. It’s unnecessary, offensive, and unoriginal in every way possible.
In conclusion, I don’t recommend Tokyo Ghost at all. If you want a cyberpunk comic series, look elsewhere because this has poor execution, horribly foreseeable plot points, and a white saviour complex that I know some folks will find infuriating.
1 hit outta 5.