Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray #1-5
Writer: Frank J. Barbiere
Artist: Chris Mooneyham
Colors: Lauren Affe
Publisher: Image Comics
This five part miniseries follows master thief Fabian Gray who is endowed with the powers of five fictional characters – Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, Merlin, the samurai Musashi Miyamoto and Dracula. We find that he has been endowed with these powers from a magical stone embedded in his chest and that dark forces are after him for this power. Fabian is an adventurer in search for his twin sister who was carried away by phantasm tentacles in the same accident that put the shrapnel in his chest. Fabian’s use of these powers drains him each time, particularly the use of Dracula’s power. Zhang Guo rescues Fabian from a tribal cult and the giant spiders they worship, takes him to Shangri La. Here, Fabian undergoes a mystical healing where he must pass a trial for each of the ghosts. Meanwhile Iago attacks Shangri La. Fabian passes the tests in time to defeat Iago.
This series reminds me of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in its literary references. But Five Ghosts pays homage to action-adventure pulp magazines instead of 19th century Gothic literature. The bold art is indicative of the flashy covers of magazines from the 30s and 40s. The art takes subtle shifts in style and color as the story progresses. For example, issue five begins with a yellow tone for the flashback and shifts into heavier inking and blue and pink colors for the final battle with Iago. While there isn’t a lot of dialogue, the story is told brilliantly through the art. The reader really “reads” each panel, print or no print.
Finally, the story is engaging. Fabian Gray is the flawed hero seeking redemption and struggling to control a power that threatens to overtake him. He fights venomous spiders as well as his own damaged psyche in his drive for redemption through finding his twin sister. Barbiere and Mooneyham provide exotic settings, dramatic action-adventure, monsters, magic, Nazis and what I’m hoping will be Cthulhu (the tentacles). This mini-series is just plain fun. So hunt through the back issues for it at your local comic store and keep an eye out for the one shot and the continual series coming out in October.
Five out of five Nerdskulls.