Advance Review: Patching Up The Ghosts And Goblins In ‘The Ward’ TPB
by Tom Smithyman
An interesting story with some amazing art, this trade paperback collects all four issues of the limited series. If you are a fan of medical dramas – particularly those with a twist – this may be a ward worth checking in to.
A giant pregnant troll who is afraid of needles. A sasquatch hit by an SUV. A banshee that overdoses on illegal drugs. It’s just a regular shift at St. Lilith’s Hospital for the Preternatural.
This mix of Grey’s Anatomy meets Hellboy is an intriguing premise for a series – so much so that you wonder why no one else has thought it until now. The story centers on young doctor Natalie Reeves, who has recently left St. Lilith’s, a hospital for otherworldly beings such as ghosts, goblins and mermen. After a neighbor finds a friend of Reeves at her doorstep, the doc is forced back into service at St. Lilith’s. The friend, you see, has a tail and can help people to forget painful memories, so a regular human hospital won’t be able to treat her.
Smartly written by Cavan Scott, the pace for each story is brisk, with just enough character development and mystery to keep the reader coming back for more. There’s also plenty of quips to lighten the life-or-death hospital environment. (At one point, an experienced nurse says of a new doctor: “You know the type. Thinks he’s Hecate’s gift to medicine.”) The story eventually segues into a pandemic that affects the city of Kirton, where patients need to be quarantined for the safety of those around them. If the analogy hits a little too close to home in the post-Covid times, that is intentional to make the drama feel more real.
For most of the trade paperback though, the real star is artist Andres Ponce, whose otherworldly creatures run the gamut from a troll to nogs to a ghostly doctor. In addition to the supernatural creatures, Ponce shows off his talents by depicting an extra-dimensional rift and collapsed buildings. The final quarter of the book deal more with the human characters, so there isn’t as much for him to sink his teeth into. But his work on The Ward should earn him some attention from other publishers looking for fresh talent.
The book concludes with a sweet tribute to the healthcare workers who sacrifice so much every day. It’s an ending to an interesting story.
The Ward TBP will be available for purchase on Wednesday.