Advance Review: Five Ghosts #13

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Five Ghosts #13 cover

Publisher:  Image Comics
Story: Frank J. Barbiere
Illustration: Chris Mooneyham
Colours: Lauren Affe

After an encounter with an ancient artifact called “the Dreamstone”, treasure hunter Fabian Gray is aided by five “ghosts” whose creative energies have been trapped within his body.  The five ghosts have been removed from their residence in the Dreaming and are not pleased to have their creative energy held hostage within Gray.  Five Ghosts addresses how Fabian deals with being the unwitting hosts for these energies while telling fantastic supernatural pulp tales.  Five Ghosts #13 is a great starting point for new readers as it begins a new adventure (“Monsters and Men”) for this master thief.  The tale begins with a young boy fleeing from some frightful creatures and Gray, channelling the ghost of the archer, coming to his rescue.  Globetrotting Fabian Gray is in Romania looking for a lost friend and another fine story arc begins.

Five Ghosts #13 page 5

While readers can pick up this issue and delve right in, a bit of background from prior issues is beneficial.  If you plan to read the earlier issues first, you may wish to skip this paragraph and the next.  In the first volume (issues #1 to #5, collected as Five Ghosts Volume 1: The Haunting of Fabian Gray), readers are introduced to Fabian Gray who has captured the Dreamstone.  After he attempts to tap into its power, his sister, Silvia, is captured by a vampire, and Fabian must pass the tests put forth by the five ghosts – the wizard, the archer, the detective, the samurai, and the vampire – in an unsuccessful attempt to secure her safe return.  Fabian’s friend and Silvia’s fiancé, Sebastian, is a far more reluctant adventurer, but also contributes to Fabian’s first assignment.  The epilogue to the story introduces, the Council, a shadowy group interested in Fabian and the Dreamstone.

Following a single issue (#6) story set in Japan, Fabian Gray returned for a second six part story arc (issues #7 – #12, collected in Five Ghosts Volume 2: Lost Coastlines). In the second volume, we learn that collecting additional objects made from Dreamstone is somehow key to rescuing Silvia.  “Lost Coastlines” featured a cryptic Nazi, a giant crab monster and a host of pirates.  It provides a bit of backstory as to Fabian’s quest to obtain the Dreamstone, and we learn that he is not the only person to benefit from a captured ghost energy.

Five Ghosts #13 page 2

Frank J. Barbiere speeds along this fast-paced pulp fiction with the pace akin to a Republic serial.  He writes well, but the story can speed along a bit, so take the time to slow down and enjoy Chris Mooneyham’s illustrations.  Mooneyham has a talent for advancing the story through his sequential art.  His style has hints of early Neal Adams with touches of Frank Miller (during his run on Daredevil) and John Romita Jr.  Mooneyham’s style already suggests a mix of these legends, so it will be a pleasure to watch his illustration style continue to develop.  Lauren Affe’s washed out colours fit in extremely well with this swashbuckling drama.  Quite simply:  This is a wonderful page-turning adventure series that is easy to enjoy.  Fans of Hellboy, the Shadow, and even old time radio stories will especially enjoy this globetrotting pulp series.