Saturday, February 3, 2018

Dave Reviews: A Very Meh Comic

Tokyo Ghost

I wanted to like this. For a while, I did.

Led Dent and Debbie Decay are constables in future Los Angeles, a world where everyone is plugged in all the time and can't see the world around them for all the screens in their faces (Debbie being the lone apparent exception). In the course of their work, they're sent to Tokyo, the last tech-free land on the planet. I'm curious if Tokyo was chosen because the creators liked the idea of a low-tech Japanese aesthetic, wanted to flip the script on Japan often having the most cutting-edge technology on Earth, if they just liked the sound of "Tokyo Ghost", or if it was something else entirely.

In any case, Debbie uses the opportunity to unplug Led and bring him back to his senses. They'd grown up together and fallen in love before he succumbed to the screens, and she sees this as their chance to be the happy couple. It all happens a bit quickly; the problem isn't so much that the process needs to take X number of pages for it to matter, but rather that because it happens so fast, and we don't see Led struggle very much with reintegrating himself into the real world, it's a given some other conflict has to come and fuck everything up for them.

That's the end of spoiler territory. I only went in that far because that's the best part of the story and is worth reading even if you already know the above information. The way the world is built, both with the art and the storytelling, is very good. Ending spoilers here means that I can only say this: they get to the end of book one (if you're reading it as two trade paperbacks), take everything they were doing well, and flush it.

The advertising in the link calls Tokyo Ghost a "smash hit". I don't know what the sales numbers are, but this isn't a situation where I didn't like something and can't fathom how anyone did. I understand that the end of the first book, and all my complaints about it, are something I think most people will grasp but not that many will think is as important as I do. I know that it's easy to bag on any sort of writing because it's not to one's taste, or forgive writing some sins because we like a particular thing about it. Copperhead is my example of the latter; it started pretty strong, but the writing has weakened noticeably over time. I still enjoy it, though, because I like the outer space lady sheriff and the characters that surround her. Others, perhaps many others, will forgive Tokyo Ghost its faults in a way that I can't.

All that said, my criticism of the story is largely based on as objective a factor as I can find. Even if you don't mind the exact things that happen from the end of book one into the beginning of book two, those events leave the writers pinned in a very serious corner. They have room to be creative about how to make the necessary future plot points happen, but there are necessary future plot points, and that's a problem. For a story to really succeed, the readers need to have some question about what's going to happen, the fate of someone in a questionable situation, the likelihood that the heroes will triumph, etc. If you're in a position where thing X has to happen for everything you've done before to make sense, and if thing X doesn't happen then you wasted everyone's time, you have fucked up. That's the situation with Tokyo Ghost.

It's a cool world. I like Debbie. Led's ok, but he's meant to be the meathead, so it's not like he's a bad character. I'm sure lots of people read the first few issues and were sold on the whole concept. But it doesn't hold up all the way through.

Score: Six absurdly sized motorbikes out of nine.

No comments:

Post a Comment