Mania Grade: C
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- Art Rating: C
- Packaging Rating: C+
- Text/Translation Rating: C
- Age Rating: 13 and Up
- Released By: TOKYOPOP
- MSRP: 10.99
- Pages: 192
- ISBN: 978-1427816122
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Left to Right
- Series: StarCraft: Ghost Academy
StarCraft: Ghost Academy Vol. #01
StarCraft: Ghost Academy Vol. #01 Manga Review
By Christopher Nadolski
March 11, 2010
Release Date: December 29, 2009
StarCraft: Ghost Academy Vol. #01
Follow a group of young candidates through a cruel cycle of training, failure, and chastisement.
Writer/Artist: Keith R.A. Decandido and Fernando Heinz Furukawa
Translation: none (written in English)
Adaptation: none (written in English)
What They Say
"Ghost Academy" chronicles the early years of six StarCraft characters all destined for greatness - and tragedy. Five teenaged fourth-class Terrans (Nova, Tosh, Aal, Kath, and Lio) are rough-around-the-edges Ghost cadets in training.
Patrons of battle.net will recognize the grungy, cyber punk greebles framing the front cover and running along the spine. On front, a crouching Nova in skin tight jumper leers up at us while brandishing a chunky gun. The supporting cast is represented behind her in sepia tone, looking hard and flashing varying sneers or grimaces. More grungy tech funk adorns the back where the summary is headed by a bank of monitor screens displaying some staticy images in that glitchy, shaky-cam kind of way. A tactile delight awaits those who notice the spot gloss treatment of Nova and the StarCraft Ghost Academy logo, nicely contrasting against the finger pleasing matte finish of this otherwise generic packaging.
As everyone is wedged into the same form hugging uniform, the character design is relatively monotonous, which suits the gloomy mood and emphasis the breakdown of individuality. In fact, most of the imagery throughout is quite dreary, often set against murky tone background—or even full black. Character's faces are depicted as if in high-def, revealing many small crevices and lines to us in all their gory detail. A nice assortment of panel layouts keeps things interesting, and the original English script is mostly passable. One distracting annoyance though, is that conspicuous pseudo-cussing. I can't help wondering if "fekk" (and all of its various conjugations) is merely a euphemism which allows the volume to pass with the older teen rating, or if it is meant to be a newly coined cuss word. In any case, it appears far too often to be just another colorful metaphor. The extras include a note from the editor, bios for the author and artist as well as six pages of "World of Warcraft Death Knight".
Enter Nova Terra, whose bleak, tragic past is fraught with murder, psychological manipulation and trauma induced amnesia. Forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, she finds herself escaping a wretched slum-gang lifestyle by throwing herself into the masochistic conditioning process of the Ghost Academy. It's a dark place to be, and in this case, the otherwise welcome and exciting distraction of a sci-fi setting provides little relief from the harshness of these character's circumstances. Aside from a derelict, grounded space ship occasionally used for rescue training and a few incidental references to aliens, this volume has almost nothing to do with the more fantastical elements of StarCraft lore and basically feels more like a narrowly focused expose on the abusive, dehumanizing practices of one institute for psychological conditioning.
Nova, her team leader Tosh, and her peers have it rough. When not being subjected to the tongue lashings of their snippy, sarcastic superiors, they are getting beaten in the literal sense by a sadistic drill sergeant or chastised and needled for their training failures by uppity seniors. We also witness them slogging through classroom indoctrination lectures which not only bore the characters, but also manage to conjure quite an authentic boredom for the actual reader as well. To make matters worse, all this is to culminate at graduation in some unexplained, though thoroughly unappealing sounding activity known as "brain panning"—apparently a form of selective memory erasure—which perhaps ensures that the freshly conditioned soldier is devoid of all but the most loyal thoughts and affections for their cause. Not an inspiring future!
Beleaguered team leader Tosh's well-meaning efforts to keep his dysfunctional underlings from their perpetual failure do seem to provide a ray of hope for a much needed humane element to this dreary volume, and heroine Nova herself is likable enough—albeit in a pitiable sort of way. But the overall effect of the story tends to feel quite grim and heavy, dwelling long on the dismal, daily grind of our hapless subjects and hinting only fleetingly at the larger, richer picture of the StarCraft universe.