Dude. Tokyo Ghost. You gotta read it! This morning I finished reading volume 1, which collects the first five issues and let me tell you, I am in love. That’s not entirely unexpected. There’s a lot to love about Tokyo Ghost.
Where do I start? This is a comic that manages to combine the hyper violence of the 80’s with a surprisingly nuanced discussion of our dependence on technology and the use of media to pacify and control us.
The two villains are archetypes of our worst fears. First you’ve got Davey Trauma, the juvenile, millennial obsessed, meme referencing embodiment of 4chan on steroids. He’s literally lost track of the distinction between reality and videogames – and it all about body count. Pair that with his ability to hand into any system and you’ve got every fear mongering, sensationalizing news anchor’s wet dream.
And then there’s Flak, who is possibly the worst of the two by virtue of seeming so reasonable. He’s the media mogul that ostensibly rules Los Angeles with an iron fist – and boos to our Protags, Debbie Dennis and Led Dent. Flak thrives on keeping people poor and addicted. He keeps them entertained and comfortable so they don’t care what he does while they’re not paying attention. Does this sounds at all familiar? Flak controls the media and at the end of the day, everything else, too.
To say the world of Tokyo Ghost is dystopic would be putting it mildly. Welcome to the island of Los Angeles where everyone lives in squalor, addicted to what is basically a virtual reality internet and juiced up by nanotech that lets them be whoever they want to be. Resources are scarce to nonexistent and violence rules the street. There’s definitely a Judge Dredd vibe happening without the focus on obtaining some form of law and order. As long as you aren’t tanking ratings you can get away with anything.
We get to see all of this through the eyes of Debbie Dennis, a woman who has managed to remain tech-free her entire life and is desperately trying to free her boyfriend of his crippling addiction to tech. She provides the critical lens through which we’re meant to question our own dependencies on technology and infotainment. All the while she questions whether there’s anything of the man she loves left to save.
It’s a captivating and challenging story and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds in future volumes. I highly recommend picking this one up, if nothing else for the amazing artwork and vivid colours. Murphy and Hollinsworth did a masterful job of imbuing an otherwise ugly world with unexpected life and beauty. 10/10 would read again.