Frank Barbiere’s “Five Ghosts” returns this month as an ongoing series. After an incredible first run, Fabian returns in an isolated story that sees him searching for the fabled sword “masamune.” The result is an excellently paced pulp adventure that serves as the perfect jumping on point for the series. Garry Brown’s art will carry you through Fabian’s misadventures with a dropped jaw. There is nothing quite like this out there, it’s easily become one of the best books of the year.
If you love Indiana Jones, but we’re pained to see his latest misadventures on screen “Five Ghosts” is the remedy. This is pure adrenaline pumping pulp adventure at its finest. Fabian is an irresistibly charming protagonist who is incredibly skilled at almost everything without ever feeling too unrelatable. It’s no easy task.
For the uninitiated Fabian Gray is a globe trotting treasure hunter who after an encounter with a mysterious artifact known as the dream stone has the ghosts of five literary characters trapped within him. The opening page will tell you everything, but it won’t give you the goods of all of his powers. (For that I suggest picking up the first trade)
Fabian finds himself in Japan. Like any good pulp hero he kicks ass almost immediately only to be reunited with a past lover. The opening fight scene is handled with incredible care by Brown’s art. The movements of the swordfighting feel dynamic and invoke an insane sense of action. The paneling here makes sure to pay special attention to the blades, which serves as an excellent motif that pushes toward the conclusion of the chapter.
Barbiere throws both the reader and Fabian head first into the adventure. It works wonderfully for the character, as it makes no task seem to insurmountable. The issue moves forward with an incredible balancing act of past history and the current pursuit.
You feel incredibly informed as Fabian pushes forward. You know exactly what is at stake, and you feel like Fabian is sure to fail. In the end Brown’s art takes full reign. The climax almost explodes off the page. I found myself in a state of constant awe as the power of the samurai was harnessed and Fabian took on an entire room.
The story feels like a separated one shot outside of the already established world, but in the end it all dovetails beautifully. Barbiere builds a self-referential narrative and in turn the world of Five Ghosts grows exponentially.
The final pages of the book offer an exciting tease about what’s to come in the future. After this issue you’ll be certain that “Five Ghosts” is capable of just about anything. For most books this would be worrisome. However, for this book it’s the most exciting thing possible. I have no idea what part of the world we’ll be traveling to next, but I’m certain it will be a thrilling ride. “Five Ghosts” is back and I couldn’t be happier. This series is a breath of fresh air, a real tour de force that provides adventures unlike any other. Get it on your pull list ASAP.
Rating 4.5/5 Skulls