When reading Brody’s Ghost it occurs just how long it’s been since the idea of the poor schmuck landed with a deceased companion only they can see was common TV currency. It’s been so long that it makes the concept of Mark Crilley’s strip appear fresh and original. As the series title suggests, the poor schmuck role is that of Brody, gifted with minor psychic powers, and the best option available to ghost Talia. In order for her to progress to heaven she needs to complete a task, and that’s to locate the culprit of the Penny Murders. She has the advantages of most people being unable to see her, and of being immaterial, and so able to pass through solid surfaces, but when it comes to communication her options are limited, hence Brody.

Beyond being the only person she’s found in five years able to see her, Brody’s far from the ideal choice. The only motivation he has in life is to win back the girlfriend who dumped him six months previously, but that changes. Without highlighting them for the sake of spoilers, a couple of aspects of the plot strike as odd, but Crilley knows what he’s doing, and these have a relevance as the series continues.

Crilley’s very much influenced by the more detailed Japanese manga, which means his pages are complex, busy and elaborate, but he has a very work intensive method of telling a slim story. The opening twenty pages, for instance, nail Brody’s environment visually, but the essential story components could have been conveyed in a page. It means that the appeal of Crilley’s leisurely approach, and even more of his art, becomes a determining factor with respect to overall value.

Yet, there’s an abundance of charm and innovation to Brody’s Ghost. Crilley’s strong on character motivation, he introduces surprising new elements at exactly the right moment, and while everyone in the cast has their annoying aspects, they’re all also inherently likeable. It all bodes well for Book 2. Alternatively the Collected Edition combines all six books.