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‘The Ghost Fleet’ #1 is Big, Dumb Action

‘The Ghost Fleet’ #1 is Big, Dumb Action

GhostFleet2The Ghost Fleet #1
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Daniel Warren Johnson
Colors by Lauren Affe
Published by Dark Horse Comics

First of all, there is nothing wrong with comics and stories in general filled with big explosions, blood splatters, and fire fights, especially if they’re part of the action or military genre. The Ghost Fleet #1 squarely fits into these kind of stories and relishes in its military credentials from the first page, which has a typically gory panel of Andrew Jackson and his soldiers fighting the British with some smaller panels showing Jackson’s covert activities with French privateers. The mix of over the top action and espionage is a nice hook for the comic, but Ghost Fleet decides to predominantly focus on the action part. This is a black ops story that happens to feature truckers with military training, but writer Donny Cates doesn’t flesh out any of these truck driving warriors and uses them as machine gun toting moving parts in the chase scenes, gun battles, and plethora of explosions and fountains of gore, which get repetitive after a while. There isn’t any reason for readers to even care about these men, which is unfortunate because Daniel Warren Johnson’s art work is gritty and anarchic and really sells the over the top nature of the plot and conflict. Plus he draws a mean big rig.

A turn for the post-apocalyptic along with some horrifying art from Johnson and sickly coloring by Lauren Affe doesn’t redeem Ghost Fleet #1 as a story. Cates barely touches on their motivation with the amount of secrets they know the only thing that differentiates the two besides their physical appearance. Then, there are the supporting cast and antagonists, who make Cobra Command from the 1980s G.I. Joe look like nuanced characters. Johnson uses heavy shadow in their scenes to show off their stealth skills along with aerial shots to show their nature as cannon fodder. However, these bits of atmosphere don’t save a subpar plot, which is below average even with a hell of a last page twist. Cates plots tight, pile-driving action sequences, but the lack of a character to latch onto hurts Ghost Fleet‘s storytelling.

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If Cates’ characters are underdeveloped and his plot beats mostly predictable, Daniel Warren Johnson’s art in Ghost Fleet #1 is pure chaos. (In the best of ways.) His loose lines capture the thrill and danger of the open road starting with a monster two page splash featuring the biggest semi-truck I’ve seen in a comic book. Johnson turns the truck into a true weapon of mass destruction with it being the focal point of the gun battles as well as being a vessel for more mayhem and blotchy reds and yellows from colorist Lauren Affe. Eventually, he does start to repeat the same pattern for the blood splashes and explosions, but Johnson excels at showing a world, which is falling apart from the seams. His art and the last few pages are high points in what reads like an action film with very little brain and less heart.

– Logan Dalton

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