Saturday, 11 July 2015

Ghost Fleet, Volume 1: Deadhead Review (Donny Cates, Daniel Warren Johnson)


A Ghost Fleet is a secret truck run that delivers classified information/cargo. Two partners, Trace and Robert, are tasked with protecting one such truck and are ambushed by masked gunmen with missile launchers. Things go badly and the ghost fleet is upended. Then Trace takes a look into the blown-open truck’s hold – and everything changes…

Vagueness rules this uninteresting comic from Buzzkill writer Donny Cates. We don’t know what’s in the trucks, why whatever it is has to be delivered by truck (why not air? Oh, so they could have the tagline “They trucked with the wrong guy”! Groan), who’s sending them or where they’re going, or anything about the setup besides some shady (aren’t they always?) government agency and senators in a Masonic-type cult who are behind… whatever’s happening.

But that’s not actually the focus of this comic because it’s really about a crap’n’corny revenge plot – ok spoilers going forward. 

Robert shoots Trace in the head - maybe because Trace saw whatever’s in the truck’s hold except Robert’s mumbling something about how “they” could save her (his wife). Huh? More vagueness! 

But of course a point blank gunshot to the head is non-lethal. I guess it was Kill Bill which started that (Tarantino definitely feels like an influence to Cates) but more recently Carl Grimes from The Walking Dead took one right through the eye and lived – and is now the main character in the series! So just to be clear: losing a chunk of your head in no way impairs your ability to live. Unless you’re a zombie. Got it.

Two years pass. Trace is now attacking the Ghost Fleets himself and Robert’s a manager or something in the shady organisation? Robert’s got to stop Trace and that’s the whole book.

I understand why Cates is being vague about what the deal is with the Ghost Fleets – that’s the mystery right? That’s what fuelled Lost for an ungodly amount of seasons! But it’s not enough. The reader has to care to keep reading and based on what little’s revealed in this volume, I just didn’t.

The revenge plot between Trace and Robert was hackneyed and even less interesting. It’s so disappointing to learn that these two chuckleheads are the focus of the book when they’re sketchily-written characters enacting the thinnest of plots. We barely get to know them before we’re thrown into the terrible story and I didn’t believe for a second they were close friends or felt that that made their later conflict more involving.

I’d say Cates was going for some kind of grindhouse thing with this book, which would make all this nonsense somewhat excusable but still not good, except for that final part with Robert’s wife where Cates tries for real drama and falls laughably short. Successful grindhouse stories really have to go for all-out silliness and Ghost Fleet only went about halfway there and then foolishly tried to be taken seriously. Also, grindhouse homages are so played out at this point – can people just stop with that crap? 

Daniel Warren Johnson’s art is fine. There’s a lot of action in this comic and the frenetic drawing style is a good fit. The covers aren’t bad either.

Ghost Fleet, Volume 1: Deadhead is a dudhead. Crap story and boring characters poorly written make for a totally unengaging read – I wouldn’t bother.

Ghost Fleet, Volume 1: Deadhead

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