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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Panel Vision: Top 10 Ghost Fleet Panels

Hello and welcome to Panel Vision.  This is where I plan to cover comic related stuff I normally wouldn’t on my usual platform over at Front Towards Gamer.  This means stuff like older comic reviews, editorials, stuff I don’t have the space to review at Front Towards Gamer, and top 10 lists. 
So to start this new blog I though I’d continue to celebrate my favorite comic of 2015: Ghost Fleet.   


GhostFleet just had its final issue come out this week which I already reviewed here in case you’re interested, this blog post is more a spoilerific celebration of that issue.  I’m going to be picking out my top 10 individual panels from Ghost Fleet #8 because there’s so much amazing craziness in this comic it deserves to be celebrated on a purely visual level.  All credit for these images goes to the amazing artwork of Daniel Warren Johnson and beautiful colors of Lauren Affe. 

There’s a lot to immediately love about this panel.  The giant sound effects all competing for your attention, the amazingly well colored speed lines that create a beautifully cohesive visual aesthetic throughout the scene, the way the image explodes beyond the boundaries of the frame giving it a brilliantly larger than life scope.  However, what really put this over the top for me has to be just how the explosive gore of the guy being impaled by the truck.  Johnson and Affe are a dynamite team at doing gore effects and this is one of the few full body examples of that. 

As I mentioned expect spoilers on this list.  This page from the end of the book really exemplifies the comic that Ghost Fleet became with this final issue; insane and irreverent, a delightful hodgepodge of youthful exuberance, unfettered imagination, and the total embrace of just how amazing junk genres can be when creators really let loose.  I also like the meta-symbolism of this sequence.  I’ve mentioned before how Ghost Fleet’s previous issues were rooted in tropes of the ‘70s, stuff like big rig trucks and Satanism.  Here at the end however, the crew drives full throttle into the future, invading the ‘80s junk genre of post apocalyptic road warriors. 

Cards on the table this is the best gore work in the entire comic.  The splattering, sinewy line of gore bisects the panel perfectly and Affe’s coloring makes it really pop against this very full scene.  I also especially like how well this panel uses gradient backgrounds, matching the coloring to the tone of the sequence rather than just trying to evoke the tones of scenery.  Also that big angry RIP sound effect really drives home the grossness of the scene. 

We now enter the amazing sound effects portion of this list.  I admit I’m a sucker for sound effects that are made of stuff in a scene, similarly to what Frank Quitely did with them in his work on Batman & Robin reborn.  I especially like how in this panel the ‘SPLUT’ sound effect looks to be part of the blood splattering the two heroes.  It also helps that SPLUT is just a delightful onomatopoeia.

This panel makes the list simply for the sheer joy and meme potential of it.  From this day until the end of time this will be my go to image for all meta jokes.  Again there’s more of that excellent Johnson gore but what I really love is the type design on the ‘META BOOM’ sound effect.  It’s so winking and knowing it’s almost cartoonish, a fact which makes it complement the gore even more.  A fittingly self-aware panel. 

This panel marks the final great sound effect of the list.  I love that in the midst of this gargantuan struggle between the physical embodiment of death and the lord of Hell Ghost Fleet still takes time for this kind of stuff.  Not simply content to add the joke panel the gigantic ‘KARMA’ sound effect is the perfect cherry on the cake of irreverence.  It adds to the overall tone of excitement and passion that makes Ghost Fleet such a delight to read, it’s so excited about its ideas it literally shouts them at you. 

This panel makes the list simply for how incredibly well colored it is.  I love Affe’s work blending together twilight tones but here she does a superb job creating this beautiful light effect with the red sunset tones bathing contrasted perfectly on the deepening teal.  This panel is a testament to how much a great colorist can elevate even the most innocuous of panels. 

This page combines so many of the greatest strengths of Ghost Fleet.  There’s that same perfect color blending with the speed line background that accentuates the action, made even better by the blur of motion of the kick.  There’s the cartoonishly arranged giant sound effect that just makes the impact all the more spectacular.  But best of all I love the image of this demon’s face careening over the next couple panels, as if the action is so high energy and amazing it can’t be contained by any mere panel box. 

This panel might seem strange from the outset as it doesn’t have anything really in common with the other installments on this list.  That’s because this panel I’ve chosen more for content, specifically because it features a cameo by Ghost Fleet author Donny Cates and artist Daniel Warren Johnson.  I make no bones about this; I am a huge fan of meta-humor and author cameos in my comic books.  

Where do I even start with this panel?  The reason this panel rocks can’t be explained through any deeper critical analysis than “it’s great,” it’s like trying to dissect the deeper joys of ice cream.  It’s that kind of naked simplicity that makes this page so perfect, it’s so massive and uncomplicated all to impart one central message “isn’t this cool?”  And indeed, it is cool, and that’s why it’s also the best panel from Ghost Fleet #8. 

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