I love a comic that takes the time to introduce a scene from the Battle of New Orleans, suggest some supernatural thing going on with Andrew Jackson and then quickly keep moving. We learn that General Andrew Jackson struck a deal with a pirate, Jean Lafitte, and that saved him from being captured by the Brits. In the process, he learned everything he needed to know in order to build his own ghost fleet! “The Ghost Fleet” is a fine example of how comics can always surprise you. I am coming away very impressed with this one.
This is a quirky action story, quirky in its narrative and artwork. Donny Cates’s script (Buzzkill) is really running with something full of not only big explosions but full of a big concept. And Daniel Warren Johnson’s artwork makes him a perfect partner in crime. What does that really mean? It means that explosions don’t mean much unless there’s something leading up to them and something worth a hoot that’s been exposed. In all this, the creative team here is heavily invested.
The dynamic of this comic is a lot harder to pull off than you might think. It’s been constructed in such a way to evoke chaos, randomness. These two tough guys are bickering in this big truck. They are, you come to find out, part of a modern day ghost fleet. One guy, Trace, feels he’s being kept on a short leash. The other guy, Ward, he keeps saying he’s not ready to let his pal stray too far. We begin to process that when the story blows wide open. Suddenly, we find that Trace and Ward are not only in a big truck. This is a massive truck and there’s a bunch of commotion. They’re being followed. You see each piece fall into place. And with such style. Johnson’s art is very fluid and waves back and forth between cartoony and semi-realistic in the best way, like Jeff Lemire or Matt Kindt. It’s a spooky, fun, chewy style.
And it looks like the sky is the limit with this comic. It’s like when you were a kid playing with your toys, man. Suddenly, if you chose, some big monster could come down and stomp out the whole village you had been building up over the last hour, no matter how many soldiers you had surrounding it. That kind of crazy suspense is at play here. Specifically, you started out with these two guys, Ward and Trace, in what seemed like any ole rig. But things escalate right quick. This is a mega-truck and, well, it’s hauling some pretty special cargo. We’ll find out what that is soon enough.
The first issue of “The Ghost Fleet” is out as of November 5. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics here.