By Mark Crilley
96 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse
It’s been a little over a year since the first two volumes of Brody’s Ghost, Mark Crilley’s new series for Dark Horse. It would be easy to have forgotten about the series by then, or at the very least feel slightly lost with this new installment. But if anything, I think the reverse is true here. Crilley picks up where he’d left off with the previous volume, but does so in a way that keeps readers instantly informed, and if anything picks up steam at a rapid pace. I’d go so far as to say that readers who jumped in with this new installment would do just fine.
It helps a great deal that after most of Brody’s Ghost Vol. 2 involved Brody being trained to use his new-found powers, this new volume quickly moves Brody onto being on the trail of the dreaded Penny Killer. It’s a moment that needed to happen, and it feels like Crilley’s timing is perfect. Brody’s grown up a great deal in the first two volumes, and he’s mentally ready to move forward in a way that he wasn’t at the start of the series. What I found myself appreciating is that the route that Brody goes down this volume is a group effort; Brody’s responsible for a lot of it, but it’s his friendships that have just as much of a boost down the road to finding the Penny Killer. You can see, looking back, how Crilley laid the groundwork in the earlier volumes to make him able to able to get through this portion of the overall storyline.
Crilley’s also found a nice balance here in other parts of the story. Brody’s telling his story to his closest friends has just the right mixture of skepticism and belief, for instance, and for every right move that Brody makes in telling lies to get closer to the Penny Killer, he also makes mistakes. (Fortunately for him, none of them are critical mistakes, but it’s a nice reminder that he’s new at this sort of thing.) It keeps Brody from being infallible, and those little slips make him a much more interesting and relatable character as a result. And in many ways, that’s one of the biggest strengths of Brody’s Ghost; Brody’s become so likable that I want him to succeed no matter what. The fact that he’s hunting a serial killer is of course a good reason to want him to do well, but it wouldn’t matter what his mission was at this point, and that’s a good protagonist.
The art in Brody’s Ghost is as nice as ever; Crilley’s art is in a manga-inspired style, using clean lines and expressive faces as the cornerstone for the pages. There’s a lot of storytelling chops on display here too; he’s able to use panel size and progression to carefully move the reader through the page in a way that exhibits strict control over your reactions. When Brody has his visions, for instance, coming back to reality starts with two small panels showing a tight focus on his eyes, from being squinched shut to opening back up. It’s then that Crilley pulls back and shows the rest of Brody; the distressed look on his face, the outstretched arm and hand holding the object, and refocusing us in the real world.
Brody’s Ghost Vol. 3 is just as good as the first two volumes, and was well worth the wait. My only complaint is now we’ve got to wait for the next chapter, and this is a series that’s good enough that I’m always feeling a little greedy in wanting more. If you haven’t read anything by Crilley up until now—or like Crilley’s comics but were just waiting on enough material to be released—this is a great time to jump and see it all for yourself. Highly recommended.