"Ghost Island #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Joseph Oliveira
Illustrated by Anabela Turlione
2016, 48 Pages
Josh Evans is a physic, but he's no Miss Cleo. He sees the ability to speak to the dead as more of a curse than a gift, tapping into the powers to perform small seances here and there to make ends meet. When a rich guy offers him a big payday for a ritual on his remote island, he jumps at the opportunity, only to find out that he might be in over his head. The entrepreneur is looking to turn a rundown asylum into a tourist attraction and wants Josh to verify the authenticity of the evil lurking within those cells. No pressure, right?
For a comic called Ghost Island, it takes its time getting to the actual location. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just a bit of a slow burn. Writer Joseph Oliveira spends a large chunk of this first issue developing Josh as a character and introducing you to his tortured existence. This man has clearly been through Hell and he's carrying a lot of baggage. The opening scene shows one of his séances where a desperate mother is looking for answers regarding the death of her son. Oliveira pulls no punches, exposing you to true evil before you even get into the supernatural end of things.
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Anabela Turlione's artwork delivers this brutal scene packed to the brim with emotion. It's shown entirely in blacks, whites, and greys and uses shadow very well. There are several panels shown only in silhouette, which work to drive home how cruel and heartless one particular individual is. This continues to the island, including the ominous view from the sea and the creepy asylum on the grounds. The style is reminiscent of early Caspar Wijngaard.
While the faces are solid, Turlione's characters lose their form when not shown in close-up. They're presented in strange positions or with weird bulges, like some of them are really just a couple of kids stacked with a trenchcoat wrapped around them to impersonate an adult. This is also true for how they stand or gesture, coming across as awkward and unnatural.
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Josh's story is intriguing and he's a character that pulls you in from the first page. This is not the case with the other characters though. Most are real assholes with absolutely no redeeming qualities. The others are basically blank slates with no real memorable attributes. If I had to guess, these will be the first ones killed when things start going crazy. Unfortunately, a chunk of time is dedicated to introducing you to these folks instead of furthering the story.
Ghost Island quickly establishes its world with a strong central character, but it ends just when things start getting interesting. Obviously there are plans to continue the story with future chapters, but I was hoping for a bit more in this oversized debut issue. In the scheme of things, we get little more than the synopsis shown on the back of the book. Despite this, it does present an interesting premise that I look forward to further exploring in the next issue.