This review of StarCraft: Ghost Academy Volume 2 is of the spoiler-free variety.
Ghost Academy Volume 2 picks up almost exactly where the so-so ride of Volume 1 left off. Gabriel Tosh (yes, that Tosh) and his squad of Nova Terra, Kath Toom, Lio Travski and new member Delta Emblock continue their training in the Ghost program. New author David Gerrold uses the opening pages to place the reader firmly in the complex timeline of StarCraft. The entire Ghost program’s existence is given a public black eye due to Aal Cistler’s dismissal and subsequent demand to be reinstated. Director Bick has to deal with this and other external pressures, while experimenting with Lio and his hab addiction. And there’s that whole gory zerg invasion that started about a year go.
Gerrold purposely made the opening busy. By leaving Team Blue out of the picture until the midst of the first chapter, Gerrold is able to touch upon the bigger issues — The politics of the program, how it’s ultimately run by Mengsk, some tough decisions. He makes sure that Ghost Academy isn’t just about the training, but also what the people stand for, and who and why they fight. Readers are shown the bigger picture, not just the day-to-day lives of Nova and her teammates (We got plenty of that in Volume 1 anyways).
Don’t let the interweaving of multiple topics fool you. There’s still plenty of action, as you’ll read after the break.
Fernando Furukawa gets to show off his artistic chops thanks to a few simulation missions during flashback sequences to the zerg invasion, and even a romantic close up. Fernando toned down the manga/anime character cliches, ruining the chance for a good punchline. This time the art is more fitting for a western sci-fi setting. It’s sexed up where appropriate, but not over the top.
Out with the sex, in with the blood and guts. The amount of gore is a drastic departure from the more PG scenes depicted in Volume 1. Sure, the first volume had its share of dismemberment, but not relative to Volume 2. And it goes far beyond battle scenes, real or simulated. Furukawa and Gerrold received a rare opportunity to depict the idea of re-socializing a human. They didn’t miss the opportunity, evoking a horrific montage of mental reprogramming.
It’s tough to follow a creation by another person. It’s even more difficult to create a piece of literature that is in the middle of a known series in which the story needs its own arc but can’t interfere or stray outside set boundaries. Oftentimes, these bridging tales fall short of their respected bookends. Gerrold and Furukawa manged to follow-up the work of DeCandido (and Furukawa) with an engrossing fast-paced story that leads perfectly into Volume 3, while containing its own closure. Volume 2 more than redeems Nova’s budding manga series.
StarCraft: Ghost Academy Volume 2 is available now. Tokyopop is currently working on StarCraft: Ghost Academy Volume 3, WoW: Shaman, WoW: Dragons of Outland Volume 2 – Nexus Point and a sequel to the The Sunwell Trilogy.