Brandt has the ability to see and talk with ghosts, as his grandfather did. Is this a blessing or a curse, and how could it affect his family? Find out in Ghost Tree #2!
Writer: Bobby Curnow
Artist: Simon Gane
Colorist: Ian Herring and Becka Kinzie
Letterer: Chris Mowry
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 22, 2019
Previously in Ghost Tree: Brandt returns to his grandparents’ house in Japan to visit his widowed grandmother. He doesn’t remember that years ago when he was a small boy, he promised to meet his grandfather under the old willow tree ten years after his death. Brandt has been restless, and there are some problems between him and his wife. He sees a strange figure in the woods, but it disappears before he can find it. Later, we see that same strange figure watch over Brandt as he sleeps. The next day he goes to the old willow tree and sees the ghost of his grandfather there. The tree is a ghost tree, and some members of the family have the ability to see and talk to ghosts. And Brandt is the next one in line who has that ability.
RESTLESS SPIRITS AND FAMILY TIES
Ghost Tree #2 is an interesting take on a story about ghosts. For starters, the ghosts are not all mindlessly malevolent. In fact, they come across as individuals, and some of them as people with issues that they need to learn to grow away from. I love the opening with one of the ghosts talking intently about his death and his lingering rage about it. It is the ghost of a samurai who was killed (beheaded) by a man he considered his brother. His tale has all the makings of a classic tragedy. Brandt talks to him, almost as a counselor, helping him see all he accomplished in life, and compare that to hundreds of years of afterlife spent narrowly focused on his death. It’s quite a thoughtful scene.
Then it makes a fun cut to the ghost who wants to talk to Brandt about his melted face, which I found to be like a humorous jump scare – a way to bring some lightness back. As Brandt talks to this ghost, his grandfather (Ojii) talks with a ghostly friend about his concerns for Brandt – he’s finding this too easy and he likes it too much. Ojii also talks to Brandt, giving him advice for talking to ghosts: not letting them bunch up around him, and walking as he talks. He wants to share some things he’s learned, possibly the hard way. They hear a strange noise, and we find out that ghosts are not the only supernatural beings that Brandt can see and hear. There’s a strange demon in the area. We also find out that the ghostly figure that featured prominently in the last issue is a Zero, a ghost charged with keeping this realm free of demons.
Brandt returns to the house, telling his grandmother he went for a walk. She says that’s just like his grandfather. It doesn’t seem as though she knows about the ghost tree. At dinner, he asks his cousin if she has ever seen the willow tree, and she has not. Later that night, Brandt calls home and leaves a message for his wife. He sits in silence, and a moment later hears his name being called. It is Arami, an old girlfriend of his who died several years ago. He asks her why she is lingering as a ghost, and her response is fascinating. She thought of a few obvious reasons it could have been, but in the end, she really just doesn’t know. But she does know that there’s something going on here that isn’t quite right.
A WORLD OF GHOSTS AND DEMONS
There is so much to like about the art of Ghost Tree #2. From the great imagination used in depicting the ghosts to the use of color palettes to reflect on where we are, it brings the story to life. The ghost of the samurai is particularly wonderful. He wears the full suit of armor, which is full of small details, and he’s carrying his head in one arm. The head, of course, does all the talking, and there’s just something so delightfully off-kilter seeing a fearsome ghost having such a down-to-earth conversation.
I also like the use of color. When Brandt talks with ghosts, there are a lot of greens and blues. As soon as the demon makes its appearance, everything shifts into the red end of the spectrum (oranges, golden-browns, etc.) The real world, and family time, have a more normal color range, although the colors are muted throughout which is an aesthetic I like here. It’s fun to see so many tools in use to help communicate the story to us.
BOTTOM LINE: MORE OF A MYSTERY
Ghost Tree #2 is not a full-blown action horror story. It is a much more psychological story told at a deeply personal level. So far, most of the ghosts seem benign, but there are suggestions that there is more danger here, and with Arami’s appearance, we find out that there is a potential mystery here as well. On that level, it is a really good read.
Ghost Tree #2
A supernatural mystery with a strongly folkloric feel.