ADVANCE REVIEW: Brody's Ghost (one-shot)

A comic review article by: Geoff Collins

ADVANCE REVIEW! Brody's Ghost will go on sale Wednesday, December 28, 2011.

Much like the Aliens movie series the title of the Brody's Ghost series should probably pluralize the title because there is more than one ghost. Pluralizing the title will also clarify to people like me that Brody's ghost is the ghost the ghost of another person, not Brody himself. What's more is that if these ghosts are Brody's he doesn't seem to have any control over them. A more apt title would A Couple Ghosts -- And Sometimes Even More -- That Talk to a Man Called Brody. That's the kind of title that will sell comics, my friend.

Idiotic ramblings aside, this was a fun read and I look forward to the follow-up that should come soon. The art falls in the anime/manga stylized genre, but the story doesn't. I like the characters because they're quirky and interesting. A lot of the storytelling is driven through solid imagery rather than simply telling readers what is going on. It makes for a quicker read, but I enjoy when a comic uses imagery this well.

There is a catch, though. Even though it says it's a one-shot with several stories I disagree. These aren't self-contained stories. A story has to have a beginning, middle, and end. While that may be a somewhat subjective definition, only two of the four short stories meet those criteria.

In the first story, "The Midnight Train", Brody whomps some muggers on an elevated train. Afterward there are two panels showing Brody's ghosts critiquing his rescue. The two ghosts are a samurai named Kagemura and a teen girl named Talia. 

"An improvement over the last exercise, to be sure," Kagemura says, "But again you dishonor the training with your excesses. By shattering the window you lower yourself to the level of a common vandal."

"Never mind the window," Talia says, "Let's talk about that bag. You have any idea how much one of those costs?"

Even though it's a short and simple story it teaches a lot to a reader like me who is picking this up for the first time. You have Brody, he has ghosts, they fight crime. It doesn't tell the whole history of the characters, but the dialog gives you an idea of each of their relationships and personalities.

As far as I can tell the next story's purpose is simply to teach us that Brody is psychic and trying to find a serial killer. This is one of the stories that doesn't have a beginning, middle, and end. Brody is in an alleyway where there is a cross and memorial to someone that was murdered there. He is trying to get psychic readings from it, and thinks that the Penny Murderer -- who is the main villain in a previous mini-series -- is the killer. A guy comes and questions why he keeps hanging around the monument and then accuses Brody of being the killer. Brody gets a psychic reading from the guy and says he thinks he solved the woman's murder, then goes off into the sunset. 

It doesn't matter that there is no beginning because it is part of a series and it is the second story in this book -- we already know who Brody is and that he fights crime. However, there is no ending. Nothing is resolved. While Brody figures out who the killer is, I sure don't know who it is. I assume the editors would not put a scene in here that would solve the Penny Murderer case since it's the center of the story arc for another mini-series. At the same time there is nothing to indicate one way or the other. The scene is informative and I learn more about Brody, but this is clearly one scene in the middle of a larger story. Is the murderer not the Penny Murderer? Was the guy he ran into in the alley the murderer? For all I know, the murderer was caught in the first mini-series, in which case I would have no idea why this story was placed in this one-shot.

I like the third story, "The Test",  the most in the book. Kamegura is training Brody by locking him in a pit so that his senses improve. Brody is a little cranky because he's been in that pit for a week, so the samurai lets him out and explains the training to him. He even proves it by testing Brody's sense of touch when he asks Brody to figure out where a cat had been laying down several years ago. It works. Unfortunately Brody needs to start the training over, because he wasn't in the pit long enough. It is fun, clever, and we continue to learn more about the characters. What's more is that it has a satisfying resolution since Brody learns why he's being tortured for training.

The final story is another one that annoyed me by having an unsatisfactory ending. Brody is about to watch a football game with his friend who has a new tv. Talia shows up and starts bugging him to go search for the Penny Murderer because she found a new lead. She breaks his bottle of beer and threatens to break the TV next, so he has to go and follow her new lead. That's pretty much where it ends. It's funny, but there is no resolution to it at all. It's just one scene in a longer story -- it's a good scene, but still just one scene.

It seems like the fourth story and second story could have been combined. Brody could have been nagged into going out to this alleyway with the memorial where he runs into someone and uses his psychic power to solve the killer. The ending to my hypothetical here would spell out what Brody learns about the killer from his psychic reading rather than leaving it to guessing.

Despite my criticism of the incomplete stories, I still see a benefit to each one as they all taught me more about the characters. However I caution readers that this is a preview book rather than a full-fledged story. Crilley is solid with his story telling and art, but I want to see it in a larger story rather than just single scenes. So the one-shot serves its purpose in that I am left wanting more and will probably try to get the other books.



Geoff Collins is a former sports reporter in Chicago, IL. He is now studying computer networking and considering committing a crime to get health care, like this man.

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