Rating: 5/5 – The best Image book not enough people are talking about!
Collecting issues #1-5 of the comic series
When I was in college, Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth was my jam. It connected me with this idea that every story is part of a singular narrative strand that we as a race have carried around with us across a sea of time. Stories that ennoble and inspire us to be something more. Stories that are forever evolving yet still thematically very much the same. A universal bond connecting each of us from across a multitude of flood myths and godlings and hero journeys, where only the names and faces change. As a concept, this profoundly shaped the way I look at stories and narrative.
Now imagine fiction as a wellspring of magic from which people could draw upon, pulling heroes and villains from worlds undreamt swirling just outside of our grasp. How awesome could that be? Moreover, how terrifying? Just think of it, weaponized imagination! Who would you be if you possessed such a thing?
Frank Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham answer that question in Image’s Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray collecting issues 1-5.
Fabian Gray, our lead, is pulled from a familiar pedigree of pulp heroes like the Shadow and Doc Savage, with a generous splash of bastard and just a hint of your favorite raider of lost arks; mixed right in for flavor. From the first panel of deep moody inks and rich saturated colors I was hooked. I can’t say enough about Mooneyham’s art, it’s just glorious. It’s like a cross between Tom Mandrake’s work on the Spectre and early Andy Kubert on Batman vs. Predator; just moody as all hell.
Originally planned as a five issue miniseries, this first trade gives you a gorgeously pulp inspired mix of action and mystery for a great price ($9.99). Barbiere starts us on a cold open as Fabian, who is nameless when we meet him, draws upon the power of the five dreamstone shards embedded in his chest to break into a Nazi held castle. Though they are never named outright, most of these literary ghosts are instantly identifiable as Robin Hood, Merlin, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes and a nameless samurai I first mistook for John Blackthorne until I realized that the story takes place in the twenties. After vanquishing his foes, and bedding the client, we begin to see Gray as a man obsessed with a singular goal: to save his sister Silvia. What follows is a five issue romp that just gets crazier and more elaborate as it goes on. Gray travels the world searching for anything that might save his sister, doing battle with spider possessed tribesman in Africa and finding lost cities along the way. His journeys however, have not gone unnoticed, as the mysterious Council hunts for him at every turn, culminating in a final struggle against the most powerful enemy he has ever faced.
Five Ghosts Vol. 1 is a brilliantly conceived and executed comic story, the first in what promises to be an engaging ongoing series from Barbiere and Mooneyham.
Guest Reviewer: Asher L. Turnaround – firstname.lastname@example.org
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