Ghost Tree #2 Is A Haunting Issue

by Olly MacNamee

In this week’s new issue of Ghost Tree, from Bobby Curnow, Simon Gale, Ian Herring, Becka Kinzie, Chris Mowry and IDW, we once again look in on the unfolding life of troubled graphic designer, Brandt, the returning prodigal son of a quaint, rural Japanese family, who moved to America years earlier, only to return home now for a number of reasons. But, on coming back home he discovers he can see and communicate with ghosts, who all congregate around the ancient gnarly ghost tree of the book’s title.

This may well be a supernaturally flavoured book, but it’s a gentle, friendly read even though the ending of this sophomore issue would suggest that not all is right with the spirit world. An enigma for another day, along with the return – albeit in her spirit form – of Brandt’s ex-girlfriend, Arami, who died 14 years ago. Although, even she seems to be somewhat perplexed to her current existence, having got bored with people-watching a good while ago. Maybe she’s here more for Brandt than or herself? With the focus of this book being on family, I wouldn’t be surprised.

It’s a book that may seem supernatural in scope – and it is – but this issue of talking heads and beautiful Japanese vistas – as imagined by artist Simon Gale – upon which the beginnings of a family-focused drama is projected upon. The returning son and his marital problems, the dead grandfather, and the family that have been left behind by both. A family, furthermore, with their own individual secrets hinted at too. Secrets, I feel, will come to the fore before the end of this series. Furthermore, it’s the troubled Brandt who seems to act as a councilor to these ghosts, ready to listen to their centuries’ old troubles and offering advice. Not you’re average Spirit Medium, then.

In this sense, the narrative reminds me of the recent Netflix hit, The Haunting of Hill House, based on the 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson, but with a more Oriental visual style and feel about it; a family drama with haunting ghosts and even more haunting secrets. But, without the clever creepiness of the TV series, which you simply could not replicate in this form. Which is fine with me. I’m loving the laid-back pace of this series, and the hints – some more subtle than. others – of dangers to come. Who is the masked spirit we saw in the first issue? Other that some kind of guardian of the spirit world, what’s his story? And, what of the threat of demons to this realm? All of these narrative elements add up to an intriguing mystery that will haunt you until the next issue.

Ghost Tree #2 is out this week from IDW

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