Required Reading is DoomRocket’s love chest, where each week one of our contributors goes crazy over a book they just can’t seem to get enough of. Intrigued to find something new? Seeking validation for your secret passions? Required Reading gets you.
By Brandy Dykhuizen. Ghastly, high-strung, at some points literally eye-popping, and at all times stunning, Tokyo Ghost explores a future in which we are addicted to technology, clamoring to get our next digital fix. Regrettably, we are not too hard-pressed to imagine a world in which this reliance on perpetual distraction is feasible, and if we were to set such a tale anywhere, Los Angeles is as good a place as any. The City of Angels has plunged into pure dystopia by 2089, its inhabitants filled with nanoparticles and injectable technologies that keep a steady barrage of daft game shows and irresistible clickbait streaming in front of their eyes.
Debbie Decay is the only recognizably tech-free citizen of the Isles of Los Angeles (guess global warming caught up to us after all), and her primary goal is to help Constable Led Dent battle the forces of evil, whether those forces are roaming the mean city streets or programing his murderous patrol from the inside. Dent is a curious character, a cypher adept at driving and fighting through the scrolling filter of his technological projections, while a hint of humanity still lurks somewhere underneath all those pixels.
Decay’s and Dent’s primary antagonist is a psychopathic criminal named Davey Trauma, who controls all aspects of technology and can therefore bend the controlled will of others to accommodate his own nefarious needs. Trauma embodies the self-serving Millennial, with his “YOLOs” and “Hellas” and “on fleeks,” and serves as a barometer by which to measure just how quickly we could transition from social media validation-obsessed blockheads to sociopaths who view human interactions as video games. Granted, his world is far more reflective of a severe first person shooter marathon than our relatively benign online trifles, but the more we scroll and click through our days, the gap between the two feels less and less like a quantum leap.
Media mogul Flak sends Dent and Debbie on a mission to pilfer Japan’s resources in return for Dent’s humanity. They reach their destination to discover that Japan has turned into an Eden, with lush vegetation and happy inhabitants ruled by an earth mother-type and her emotional red panda. Technology does not touch this culture, and if it does, its secrets are kept under lock and key. However, wherever there are humans there will come conflict, and even a flowery utopia like Arcadia can give way to acts of violent revenge and selfishness when mankind indulges in its more primal impulses. A blast from Led’s past turns everything topsy-turvy and sends the series into overdrive towards a surprising and explosive ending — at least, until the next volume begins.
This book seems overwhelmingly action-heavy at times, but that’s precisely what you want from a commentary on the effects of constant overstimulation. Sean Murphy is an exceptional artist, adept at inciting deep anxiety and stirring pandemonium. Even in the moments between bludgeonings, the neon-lit streetscapes make you feel like you’re never quite safe.
Conversely, he perfectly captures the tranquility and muted colors of a moonlit waterfall or the smoothness of koi gliding through a pond. Portraying motion in all its forms is his forte, whether it be an arm ripping from a socket, the silent leap of a samurai or the lazy twitch of a cat’s tail. Murphy and Remender are a highly formidable team to behold, and like a hyper-violent Idiocracy, Tokyo Ghost catapults its characters through a storm of blood and guts to offer up a warning: technology may be eating us alive and turning us into zombies, but the one thing we have to fear above all else is our own humanity gone off the rails.
Written by Rick Remender.
Art by Sean Murphy.
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth.
Letters by Rus Wooton.