Equal doses of Indiana Jones and old school horror makes this latest installment of Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray, a treat to read. But with only two issues left in the series, they’re going to have to start answering some questions.
Here’s the official word from Image:
A BOLD NEW ERA OF PULP ADVENTURE COMICS BEGINS HERE. After a tragic encounter with an artifact known as “The Dreamstone,” infamous treasure hunter Fabian Gray was possessed by five literary ghosts and has been granted access to their unique abilities.
Like most, I agree that the premise of this series is phenomenal. Old style adventurer Fabian Gray has been possesed by five Literary Ghosts — or put more accurately, five stock characters that most creative writing teachers tell us to use sparingly: The Wizard, The Archer, The Detective, The Samurai and The Vampire. And while these possessions afford Gray some unique tricks, having all these spirits use his body as a playground is starting wear Gray down. But this is just backdrop to the real quest, which is only touched upon in issue #3: Fabian is out to save his sister’s soul.
Probably the most enjoyable part of writer Frank J. Barbiere’s work is his obsession with narrative structure; it not only frames this entire series, but allows for an opening scene where “the collective unconscious” can legitimately be introduced as a story element. It’s a joy to watch. Issue #3 concerns itself with the origin of the Dreamstone, and a new ally who wants to help Gray restore his body. But it skirts around the issue of his sister. Again. With only two issues left to resolve the mystery, one wonders if Gray will fall into the Fox Mulder Trap, where his initial quest is treated more like afterthought than guiding mission.
Art might be the best part of this issue. Chris Mooneyham (again) does a great job of capturing that old-school swashbuckling Kirby look, while adding elements that help the book look fresh. As strange as it may sound, Mooneyham has a knack for flashbacks — we get two this issue, and each is rendered differently, and richly.
While issue #3 didn’t push the story forward as far as it could have, it was still a treat.