The Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts mixes battle manga action with a story inspired by video games

Art from Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts Vol 2.
(Image credit: Saturday AM)

Saturday AM's The Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts launched last year with a first volume that blended fast and thrilling manga action with some of the tropes of video games. In the series, teenager Nilay - "Nil" - tries to unravel the mystery of his missing mother, Dia, but gets caught up in a secret society of Players who can control avatars called Ghosts. This is no mere game, however. Nil and his Ghost Vyper Neo quickly realize that this is a life or death battle with very real consequences.

The second volume of the series, created once again by writer Frederick L Jones and artist Oscar Fong, is releasing this June. The new book picks up the story where the first volume left off, with Nil stepping up his quest to find Dia while making new allies along the way. It's an even bigger and more exciting instalment, one that Jones says puts more pressure on its teenage hero as he steps deeper into the world of Ghosts. We spoke to Jones and Fong to find out more... 

The cover for Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts Vol 2.

(Image credit: Saturday AM)

Newsarama: Frederick and Oscar, for those who missed the first volume, how would you describe The Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts?

Frederick L. Jones:
The Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts is a Yu-Gi-Oh!-style adventure manga series that removes the idea of a game and instead realizes it as a secret society called Players (ala the Illuminati) that have the power to summon Ghosts and who use their power to control the world. Us normal folks (NPC) cannot see these spectral beings but can still be impacted by them. 

We see this through the eyes of Nilay, or "Nil," who loves video games. He gets a magical item that allows him to summon Ghosts. Now he must deal with dangerous figures who seek to kill him and take his device. The problem is that his long-lost mother's whereabouts are tied to the device. Thus, Nilay will refuse to give up without a fight, and in the process he will become the man his parents hope he can be.

Oscar Fong: It doesn't help that Nilay is the worst gamer around, but with the help of Vyper Neo, one of the weirdest Ghosts, as well as help from Daedalus Bonn, one the strongest, Nilay will have to cheat or pummel his way to victory, all to find out what happened to his mother. All of the Ghosts are unique, and thus like Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and other popular anime, the designs and powers of these beings are really cool and unique.

Art from Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts Vol 2.

(Image credit: Saturday AM)

How does Volume 2 expand this story?

Frederick: It introduces more Ghosts into the mix and plays on the idea that this secret society exists, which means that anyone can be a threat - even your friends and family. Nilay will have to go through another crucible to save his mother. Likewise, we learn more about his parents' past in this world and the relationship between humans and Ghosts. So we tried to make it bigger and more epic than Volume 1!

Oscar: Personally, I'd say Volume 2 is just as big as Volume 1, with more Ghosts, allies, and enemies who will present Neo with heavier burdens to bear as he comes into his own as a player. We also get a dive into the past of Nilay's parents and see how they dealt with Ghosts.

Art from The Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts Volume 2

(Image credit: Saturday AM)

What sort of new challenges and opponents will Nilay face in the new volume

Frederick: Volume 1 was more of a thriller, which I think shocked a lot of people. Where most of these types of YA graphic novel series have that sort of "Harry Potter" style (aka the magical boy that could), Nilay is a normal kid. He's lazy at times. He loves video games. He gets impatient. He's not popular. He's a first-generation South Asian living in North Carolina. So one of the struggles he faces is a sense of his own cultural ties versus his very American upbringing, becoming a teenager (and thus becoming his own person), and his grief over his mother's disappearance. 

For Volume 2, I really wanted to explore more of his tension at things changing and his struggle to define himself during this chaos. He's feeling more pressure now. He is struggling to master his most powerful Ghost, Daedalus Bonn, and he is having to actually train for the first time in his life and get good at something. Likewise, he feels pressure with his cultural identity when he meets another South Asian character and faces new threats from the forces who want his Ghosts and his magic device.

Oscar: One of the main challenges Nilay faces is having to deal with the expectations placed on him by everyone. Throughout the volume we have allies and enemies telling Nilay what it means to be a Player in this deadly world of Ghosts and what he'll have to do to survive. It's up to Nilay to determine what type of Player and person he will be.

Art from The Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts Volume 2

(Image credit: Saturday AM)

The first book ended with the hint that Nilay is going to be looking for allies to help on his quest. Do we meet any of these in Volume 2?

Frederick: I'll let Oscar answer this, as he did such an awesome job designing these characters and their Ghosts! 

Oscar: We do in fact get to meet a couple of new allies in the volume who will aid Nilay on his journey. One of them is a young Indian girl named Trisha Shidavani, a smart and hot-tempered lass who considers herself a far more superior player than Nilay. The second is Xavier Brooks, an African American who is an established player and the mentor of Trisha and an old friend of Nilay's father, Anil. He maintains a cool demeanor and has a knack for getting the information he needs, even if he has to be ruthless to get it.

Art from The Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts Volume 2

(Image credit: Saturday AM)

Will we find out more about the mystery of what has happened to Nilay's mother in this volume?

Frederick: That's the key arc for these first few volumes, so yes, we will discover more about Dia. As Oscar said, we'll learn more about the parents in this volume, and that's a very fun, eye-opening story. 

Oscar: We do continue to expand that story, and through that, we see what this world looks like for people who grew up with an awareness of it, unlike Nilay, who is only discovering it at 13 years old. Dia's story, as well as his father's, provide some key details about the world for the reader and Nilay.

Art from The Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts Volume 2

(Image credit: Saturday AM)

MMWOG is heavily inspired by video games. Did any specific titles have a direct influence on the series?

Frederick: For me, mostly Yu-Gi-Oh! But that wasn't the only influence. I've always asked Oscar to bring in any of the games that inspired him. I'm curious to know what his are - although I'll bet Pokémon is one! Am I right, Oscar?

Oscar: Surprisingly, Fred, Pokémon isn't one of them. There is another game series I consider a stronger influence on MMWOG, the Mega Man Battle Network series. Aside from similar themes of the bond a human shares with their NetNavi, Digimon, etc., Battle Network had a unique battle system that combined action and strategy, where players who weren't great at action games could rely more on strategy to win. 

Battle Network could be considered the only card game to utilize a sort of real-time gameplay system instead of a turn-based one, which is something I wanted to capture in the MMWOG action scenes, since the characters in MMWOG also used cards in fights against Ghosts and other Players.

Art from The Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts Volume 2

(Image credit: Saturday AM)

How about other manga? What are your influences? 

Frederick: For me, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has been a favorite since the '90s. MMWOG actually was very much inspired by that notion of a secret society, secret powers, and enemies that you can't quite see but you know are out there. It struck me as such a cool concept, especially if you do it from the perspective of kids. So, that's where the inspiration came from. 

Oscar: I could name a lot of manga and comics that influenced me, but one [creator] in particular is Takeshi Obata, who worked on Bakuman and Death Note. He's an artist who certainly inspires me to be more dynamic with my composition and art style.

Is this a series you plan to develop over many years?

Frederick: Absolutely! First, though, we need to make sure that this book is a success - so please BUY IT! 

But, YES! When I first conceived of this storyline and these characters, I've long wanted to expand the world and tell stories from different perspectives. I mean, how do players impact the world politically, financially, and culturally? The books explore some of this and will get deeper into that as we continue. That said, for this first arc, the heroes of this story are Nilay and his family, and I think such a personal story was a great way to introduce this world. 

Oscar: Currently, we have plans to have a third volume with the expectation of finishing up the current arc. From there we hope to expand the world of MMWOG and show a much larger story, with more secrets to be unveiled about the world the characters live in. But for now our attention is focused on making sure we can give the third volume a proper conclusion.

The Massively Multiplayer World of Ghosts, Volume 2: A New Challenger is published by Saturday AM on June 25.

If you're looking for more great reads, check out our picks for the best manga of last year.

Will Salmon
Comics Editor

Will Salmon is the Comics Editor for GamesRadar/Newsarama. He has been writing about comics, film, TV, and music for more than 15 years, which is quite a long time if you stop and think about it. At Future he has previously launched scary movie magazine Horrorville, relaunched Comic Heroes, and has written for every issue of SFX magazine for over a decade. He sometimes feels very old, like Guy Pearce in Prometheus. His music writing has appeared in The Quietus, MOJO, Electronic Sound, Clash, and loads of other places and he runs the micro-label Modern Aviation, which puts out experimental music on cassette tape.