Comic Review: Five Ghosts Volume One

Generally, I’m leaning more and more toward writing reviews for things I like, or at the least for things that I find useful or inspirational in some way.  That’s why I haven’t written reviews for several of the comics and graphic novels I’ve read recently.  It’s been a bit of a dry patch.  Just in the last few weeks I was pretty disappointed by both Jupiter’s Legacy and C.O.W.L., which both tread very familiar ground without having an especially unique take (C.O.W.L. was almost interesting enough to make the effort to continue…but not quite).  So, I have to admit, I wasn’t super hopeful when I picked up Five Ghosts.  In a nice twist, I found myself really enjoying it.

I mentioned familiar ground and Five Ghosts also treads some well worn roads of storytelling, but it does it well and puts its own unique stamp on things.  Frank J. Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham tap into some of the same themes and cultural sources as come creators like Mike Mignola with his Hellboy comics.  And that’s the comic character or series I’d most compare this one to.  Not just because our hero, Fabian Gray, faces off against demons and Nazis, but because it has some of that post-War, shattered world feel that Mignola captures.  It’s “high adventure” mixed with broken dreams.  It reminds me of some of the supernatural comics coming out of the 1970s and early 1980s that were looking back from a time of cultural upheaval and disappointment to a more “just” war.

Had I picked up the first “floppy” issue of this series, I might not have continued.  I wasn’t sold on the idea of a character who has the ghosts of fictional characters living inside him and trying to come out…sometimes to help.  But once the story dove into the lore and greater concepts, I was along for the ride.  While this may not live alongside Mike Mignola’s masterful Hellboy, I think fans of Red would enjoy this series as well.

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