By Courtney Ryan. Lion Forge has been on a roll lately with its new superhero universe, Catalyst Prime, which attempts to disrupt expectations of the superhero genre by casting diverse characters who are often invisible as extraordinary caped crusaders. Though Ghost Money falls far, far outside Catalyst Prime’s superhero universe, it still follows the imprint’s progressive themes by introducing a distinct cast of characters who navigate a contemporary world that’s relevant to today’s headlines.
Set just a few years in the future, Ghost Money draws its conflict from the United States’ War on Terror and posits that in this near-future ruled by American NeoCons, a single, large fortune is all it will take to shake the pillars of the global economy. For this first issue of the 10-part series, writer Thierry Smolderen focuses on two potentially converging storylines. The first involves a covert team of military veterans as they attempt to drum up an elusive Al-Qaeda fortune that was acquired by investing in the chaos following 9/11. The second plot follows a British woman who befriends an enigmatic billionaire from Tajikistan, as the two explore the high end of life in London, Dubai, and Brazil.
The mysterious atmosphere of Ghost Money #1 propels the story forward and certainly scratches an anticipatory itch. Though, perhaps due to their need to remain secretive, the characters lack much nuance or depth aside from the British woman, who appears to be as clueless as the rest of us. My hope is that Smolderen will flesh out the remaining characters as he reveals their motives and mysteries.
If character development falters somewhat, Jeremy Melloul plays more than makes up for it with his engrossing artwork. No matter the scene, his details and colors match the tone perfectly, from the chaos of a battle in Fallujah to the stoic modernism of a contemporary art gallery’s swimming pool in Rio de Janeiro. And, helpfully, his characters’ expressive faces lend distinction where unique and memorable personalities haven’t been filled in yet.
Ghost Money #1 is a promising outing that feels quite seasonable in our current cultural climate. As with any action-adventure tale, some of the greatest thrills come from the rogue exploration of the world at hand. By design Ghost Money gives us just that.
Written by Thierry Smolderen.
Art by Dominique Bertail.
Translation by Jeremy Melloul.
8 out of 10