“Five Ghosts” does what it does best this month. It provides an action packed adventure, which further deepens its world, characters, and ideas while looking beautiful. The whole thing reads like silk. The main protagonist is noticeably absent throughout the bulk of the issue but that somehow doesn’t stumble writer Frank Barbiere for even a moment. Come away to a strange island and join “Five Ghosts” for some giant crabs, stay for the mysterious witch.
This comic exists in a league of its own. The storytelling is conveyed with such confidence that the larger world outside of the pages feels fully developed. The series has an incredible voice that manages to be unique and still drip with tribute. It never feels strained and it always feels unpredictable. Which is basically the highest praise I can give to a comic. If you can continue to surprise me, I’ll be back month after month.
So yet again, “Five Ghosts” surprises me. I find Fabian Grey to be magnetic, almost irresistible. His powers notwithstanding, he’s an enterprising and confident hero who is motivated for the wrong reasons. So extracting this magnetic force should create a lull in the book. Instead, it deepens the mystery.
We’re finally given some time to meet Sinbad (as she calls herself.) She has a dreamstone, and we learn what happens when dreamstones get too close. It’s not pretty, and it’s overwhelmingly ominous. Barbiere weaves the narrative around disorientation and makes Fabian all the more important by removing him. The action is still present, and the supernatural is everywhere. In fact we get a supercharged jolt of it with the introduction of a new character whose sure to mix shit up in all the wrong ways.
Chris Mooneyham and Lauren Affe are a match made in heaven. Their work compliments each other so well that the pulpy, washed out but colorful look to the paper has come to define the book as much as the characters. Mooneyham finds fantastic ways to keep the action exciting and overwhelming. The looming beasts at the beginning of the issue are only rivaled by the ship-destroying climax of the script. Everything is communicated with polish and poise.
It’s hard for me to find a fault in an issue like this. The voice is carefree, the action is heavy, and the implications for the future are far-reaching. The particulars of this book are made with such confidence that you could easily believe lifelong comics pros were behind everything. Instead it’s the commitment to creating a unique and developed world with complex characters that wins out over everything else. At the end of the day “Five Ghosts” exists in an endlessly complicated world that is communicated with relative ease. It’s not an easy task, but it sure looks that way.
Rating 4.5/5 Skulls.
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