It’s been quite a while since I read the first Brody’s Ghost, but after a quick refresher of the story, Mark Crilley plunges right in to the action and I was easily able to follow the plot. In the previous volumes, the reader meets Brody who, after being dumped by his girlfriend Nicole, has pretty much given up on life. Then he meets a teenage ghost, Talia, who is intent on tracking down the Penny Murderer. With training from an ancient samurai ghost, Kagemura, Brody begins to shape up both physically and psychically. However, he’s had a horrible vision of Nicole’s death and volume three begins with Brody’s desperate attempts to keep her safe.
Now that Brody has progressed in his physical and mental abilities, Talia has some better ideas of ways to track down the Penny Murderer. As Brody reluctantly follows her instructions, he has a run-in with Nicole, reveals his secret to an old friend, has some horrifying visions, and ends up sneaking into police headquarters where he makes a shocking discovery. There’s clearly more to come in this story and the author’s skillful writing makes the reader breathless with anticipation to find out what happens next.
Even without the author’s note at the beginning telling us Brody lives in a “decaying metropolis a number of decades from now,” it’s clear from the art that this is a future world, but completely believable and not much different than ours. The architecture is a little different, the laws just a little changed, but Crilley’s gray-hued city, lit by lights, towering over abandoned construction projects, and clogged by tired people, could be any big city that’s fallen on hard times. The art has gently shaded tones that convey the taut emotion of the story while downplaying the violence and horror that surrounds the characters as they track down the mysterious Penny Murderer. Brody has changed from the helpless and hopeless street vagrant to a tough young man, but he still shows his vulnerability and naivety in his expressions.
There’s not a single wasted line, piece of shading, or string of text in this carefully plotted graphic novel. Crilley includes an interesting section on his creative process at the end of the book and it’s easy to see how his atmospheric sketches grow into the clean lines of the book itself. Although there’s no overt violence, the characters are young adults and have a different outlook than teens in high school might have in this situation. The story is as much about making life choices, about justice, and about seeing others’ perspectives as it is a murder mystery. Older teens will be the most likely to pick this series up and, while it’s not necessary to start at the beginning, readers will want to go back and see what they missed.
Brody’s Ghost, vol. 3
by Mark Crilley
Dark Horse, 2012