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The comic is set on Crowley Island, an abandoned government centre where horrific occult experiments once took place. Hundreds were maimed and killed in the government’s quest for occult knowledge.
The final experiment was conducted on a young run-away Ruthie and it killed her. As she died, she laid a curse on the Crowley Island. Her death combined with the energies produced by the experiment gave her curse power. Shortly afterwards, military fortifications were set up around the Crowley 1 Research Center to act as a barrier between it and the rest of the world. This wasn’t to keep people out but rather to contain Ruthie’s curse. In time, this became the final stop for every failed special forces operative, including the series’ protagonist, Sgt David Hanson. Of course, by that time the fortifications had a name. They were called the Ministry.
David Hanson :Hanson is the protagonist of the series. Physically powerful, he is mentally unstable and prone to visions. It is implied in the series that these are in fact a side effect of latent psychic abilities. Once he arrives at the Ministry, his mind starts to slip further and he experiences several flashbacks and fugue states. He is a Lovecraftian hero whose encounter with the supernatural seems to be leading to a psychotic breakdown.
Commander North :North, the African military leader of the Ministry is Hanson’s foil.
Mad Dog :An Irish thug redeemed only by his brotherly love for Chris.
Chris Thorne :A native to Crowley Island, Chris was raped by a Ministry soldier until rescued by Mad Dog. The only female soldier in the Ministry, she is disguised as a boy to avoid molestation at the other soldiers’ hands.
Renwar Hanson :David Hanson’s younger brother who disappeared when still a child. One of North’s prodigies, he acts in the capacity of the Ministry Assassin. It is also implied that he is romantically involved with Pix.
Pix :Unlike most Ministry staff, Pix is not human.
Ruthie :Ruthie was tortured to death in the occult experiments when Crowley was still a research centre. Her curse transformed Crowley into a living Hell. She still exists in Lich form, although visible only to psychics like David Hanson and inhumans like Pix. Her powers include telekinetic abilities - in the Fall From Grace storyline, she telekinetically destroys tissue in David Hanson’s lungs. Unlike many undead in popular culture, she has the ability to think and plan.
Themes and style
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Stylistically the comic makes heavy use of high contrast between black and white. In his review, Andy Luke favourably compares the art to that of Frank Miller. The use of panels is unconventional and often non-sequential.
In his Altern8 interview with Andy Luke, Phillips' cites influences such as David Lynch and Lovecraft.
Ministry was available as print on demand and is available on-line through Indyplanet. It is also available as a downloadable PDF on iDream.