Time has a way of softening our memories. With every new year, painful moments erode in hindsight, while our cherished days only grow smoother. When the world is hard and sharp, it’s easy to look back to the past for comfort. But no matter how fondly we remember it, we can’t change the past. In IDW Publishing‘s Ghost Tree #3, written by Bobby Curnow, with art by Simon Gane, colors by Ian Herring and Becka Kinzie, and lettering by Chris Mowry, we see what happens to those who get lost looking back.
Brandt Kinoshita can talk to the dead. Well, sort of. When Brandt returned to Japan to visit his grandmother, he only wanted an escape from his failing marriage. What he found instead was the Ghost Tree, a supernatural nexus that calls to lonely ghosts and spirits. Among those ghosts, Brandt discovered last issue, was Arami, his high school girlfriend. Happy for the first time in years, Brandt finds himself drawn to the Ghost Tree and memories of the past. As Brandt’s grip on the living world weakens, a sinister force grows ever stronger in the woods, threatening not only the living, but the dead as well.
Is it cheating to call a ghost comic ‘Haunting’? Probably, but that’s the truest word to describe Ghost Tree #3. With only one issue left, Curnow’s writing cuts to the core of what makes Ghost Tree such a great series. What does it mean to lose someone you love, it asks. And once they are lost, can we ever find them again? Ghost Tree #3 explores these questions by taking a step away from Brandts encounters with the troubled dead. Instead, this issue explores the lives of those the dead leave behind, stirring up painful memories for the book’s living cast. It’s not the ghosts that haunt them. It’s the memories.
Those memories, of course, are as beautiful as they are deadly. While Ghost Tree #3 is dialogue heavy, its pacing never lags, thanks in part to its fantastic art. Lovingly illustrated and colored by Gane, Herring, and Kinzie, this issue makes it clear that this art team is at the top of their game. Herring and Kinzie’s color work perfectly coveys the series shifts in tone and mood. They even alter the hue of Ghost Tree #3’s gutters during flashbacks, turning the off white into an aged yellow. As for Ganes, the artist positively floors it, wringing as much expression as he can in every single panel.
Over the past several issues, the Ghost Tree creative team have pulled out all the stops. From the crisp writing to the lush illustrations, every element of this book makes the mark. But what’s most remarkable about Ghost Tree #3 is how seamlessly those elements tie together.
In one of Ghost Tree #3‘s finest scenes, Brandt’s grandmother speaks freely about her relationship with her late husband. As she speaks, his ghost watches on in bitter silence. Neither the text nor the Gane’s art contain the whole story. But combined, they weave together in perfect synergy. The result is Ghost Tree #3, a beautiful comic full of quiet melancholy. Don’t let this one slip by.