Comic Review: Hungry Ghost (Dark Horse)

Berger’s Books, a subset of Dark Horse, (the editor is Karen Berger) introduces a new comic in Hungry Ghosts #1. But the ingredients aren’t fresh… and here’s why: Issue #1 […]

Berger’s Books, a subset of Dark Horse, (the editor is Karen Berger) introduces a new comic in Hungry Ghosts #1. But the ingredients aren’t fresh… and here’s why:

Issue #1 of the four-issue Hungry Ghost miniseries opens with an introduction… a very rich man is having a banquet and talks about “Kaidan”, an ancient Japanese tradition of telling scary stories. Each successive story among 100 stories being told gets scarier. Hmmm, very cool! Where does that lead?

Well, it doesn’t lead too far, at least not in the first issue. But is that because the calmer tales are told at the beginning? Unfortunately, that logic doesn’t hold water… with only 4 issues, there is no time to waste. And that’s where this title goes wrong.

Writer Anthony Bourdain (yes, the TV food critic) teams up with co-writer Joel Rose to present Hungry Ghosts. It seems that “hungry ghosts” is an Asian phenomenon; it means that ghosts of those who have starved to death are haunting you. Well, that premise is also an interesting one. But, well, you know… where’s the beef?

The trouble is that the three stories in this issue are similar to the old EC Comics title Tales Of The Crypt but without the “shocker” ending. Tales Of The Crypt is a bit dated now in 2018 of course, and audiences expect more. More of a carefully prepared story simmered to perfection and stirred methodically with the freshest of concepts. So, while the visuals by Alberto Ponticelli and Vanessa Del Ray (colorist Jose Villarrubia) are terrific, the story drags them all down to fast food drive-through level. Cliches and lack of suspense are the equivalent of leaving these tales under the heat lamps too long… it’s just not top notch work, a bit pedestrian…

Let’s hope the creative juices flow better for issue two, and the diners get their money’s worth!

Dark Horse: Hungry Ghosts #1, $3.99 for 30 pages of content. Mature content.

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!