Pulp Corner: Five Ghosts: The Haunting Of Fabian Grey #1
The first issue of Five Ghosts: The Haunting Of Fabian Grey is finally here. After seeing a promotional poster and reading about the premise a few months ago and doing an interview with the title’s author, I couldn’t wait to check it out. Apparently, I wasn’t alone because within the first day Image Comics had sold out and it was put into a second pressing. Is it really that good?
The answer is, yes.
Our story centers around treasure hunter, Fabian Grey. At some point before the series begins we learn that he had encountered something known as the dreamstone and as a result he is possessed by 5 literary ghosts that allow him to conjure up each of their paticular skill sets. We’re talking Merlin, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, a samurai and Dracula. These attributes are certainly something that would come in handy to any treasure hunter. The first few pages give us the visual display of all these different ghosts that Fabian has access to and we see them put to use as he plunders Nazi gold.
It’s not all riches and adventures for our title character, something supernatural is haunting him throughout different countries by following the trail the women he’s been with. To make matter’s worse it seems Fabian is losing control of his powers too. There’s a very unsettling scene where we see it begin to happen and only through quick intervention from his brother in law, Sebastian is it prevented. Fabian pays a visit to his sister who seems catatonic but he pledges to fix the issue and implies some guilt as if he was responsible for her situation.
This is almost all prologue stuff, but it never feels that way. It’s told organically and with proper pacing. The book definitely shifts here to more Indiana Jones type territory. The change in tone is reflected by the colors as well. The first portion tends to be very dark and shadowy and this section contains lots of vibrant colors. Sebastian gave Fabian a letter about a strange stone and spider gods in Africa. Cut to a scene with the both of them in one of those glorious 1930’s style biplanes which always signals adventure in my mind (and conjures up images of Cary Grant narrowly avoiding one in North by Northwest). The plane is brought down by hundreds of spears and a tribe of angry bloodthirsty natives. Fabian channels the samurai ghost and puts some serious moves on the tribe. As he goes to access the magician his powers fail him and the tribe carries him off. Sebastian, bloody from the encounter watches in vain…
It might be premature to say with only one issue in, but this is the comic I’ve been hoping for. Much like Pilgrim it leans more towards the Doc Savage/Indiana Jones type of pulp…that is to say, Adventure. I love the dark hard boiled crime stuff as well, It’s just that there’s so much of that these day and above all else this is actually FUN. Plus you get elements of magic, the occult, swordplay, archery and mystery. It’s a great way to combine all these things in a cohesive way.
As I mentioned earlier, I was lucky enough to able to interview the author, Frank J. Barbiere shortly before this was released and one of the things stood out to me was the amount of globetrotting we would see. He wasn’t kidding. In the first issue alone we are on a whirlwind tour of Austria, Spain, England and Africa. Exotic locations are a hallmark for any good pulp adventure. Chris Mooneyham’s art is able to deftly capture the vibe of each of those locations. His style is strange but perfectly effective for the mood this comic is trying to put across.
I honestly, can’t wait for issue #2. I’ve seen the cover and it looks like we are in for a treat.
Gentleman, my hat is off to you.
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