Oho, another post in as many days? Back to blogging regularly?
I doubt it.
Anyways, here today with another edition of Comic Tracker, the segment where I take a comic and read a single book, issue etc. and make some judgement as to whether there the series is worth reading further. For a more detailed explanation, go here: Introducing “Comic Tracker”.
In today’s edition, we have the first TPB from Five Ghosts, from Image Comics. This comic is brought to us by the team of writer Frank J. Barbiere, artist Christopher Mooneyham and coloring by Lauren Affe and S. M. Vidaurri. Why haven’t I heard of any of these people…
Five Ghosts follows the adventures of Fabian Gray, a treasure “liberator” who fits the mold of your typical “James Bond” type: tall, dark and handsome. Except that he is also haunted by the ghosts of Robin Hood, Merlin, Sherlock Holmes, Miyamoto Musashi and Count Dracula. So that’s cool. The haunting by these ghosts somehow allows him to tap into and temporarily gain the abilities of these five legendary entities. And that’s even cooler. What isn’t cool is the price he had to pay. As a result of the accident that caused him to become haunted, his sister was captured/kidnapped somehow. Now Fabian quests to find some magical artifact that will help him rescue his sister.
In the first book, we establish the main character, Fabian Grey, and make his mission clear. The book also introduces something which I think is pretty smart: the condition of being haunted by these ghosts is not fun. In theory, being able to call upon the collective abilities of Robin, Merlin, Sherlock, Musashi and Dracula seems super useful, and the book makes sure to show exactly how cool it looks right away. We are right away shown him pulling off a seemingly impossible heist by using his powers, and it looks epic.
However, we are very quickly shown how much of a toll it takes on Fabian, both emotionally and physically. It should be noted that he didn’t learn these entities’ abilities, he is literally possessed by ghosts. For those of you who have seen any possession-based horror movie, you don’t need to imagine what it might entail when you allow a ghost to gain temporary control of your mind and body so you can take advantage of it’s power. It must take a large amount of focus to prevent yourself from being completely taken over. And using 5 different ghosts in quick successions, as is shown in the opening of the book, multiplies the effort five-fold. Combined with this is Fabian’s guilt at having this power at the expense of his sister’s existence. He blames himself for the accident that cause her disappearance and strives to get her back even at the potential cost of his own life.
I appreciate that they use the basic conceit of this series as the emotional pivot. It simplifies the series down to an essence and helps to remind you of what the focus should be. It also helps when judging future developments, as you can use this as a basis for whether or not they stay on target. Many series (not just comics) have some initial premise, and then with the passage of time eventually they stray further and further away from that premise. By laying out the basics and establishing what the long term goal is, we have a better idea of where the arc of the series will eventually go. While some may say this is predictable, that is the way this kind of series is meant to work. It’s basic, simple story telling, not so much a thriller or psychological masterpiece as much as it is a fable or epic yarn.
Now, to get to the judgement of this book itself and how I feel about moving through the series going forward. The events of this book go at a pretty fast pace, and we it really seems like too much happened within a short span. I enjoyed the fast pace, and it reminds me of those old pulp comics like The Spirit and The Phantom. That said, this book isn’t perfect. For example, more than one antagonist is established to some degree and one of them end up getting dealt with before the end. Now, I understand that these issues cover a very short span of the overall story that the writers want to tell, and the guy who got dealt with is more like a mini-boss fight. However, the mistake is that they had the bad guy be thwarted too fast. He showed up, messed up some people who we didn’t care about because we didn’t have time to, and then he got thwarted. However, it felt like the writers expected us to be more torn up about the stuff he did. This mini-boss end up bumping off a guy who, it seemed, would be pretty important. However, before he got enough exposition to really care about, he just got killed. And THEN, the mini-boss just got dealt with. And that’s it. Done. Moving on! Like… what? No dramatic moment? No talking? I mean, for this style, that would be inappropriate, but still… it just makes no logical sense.
I’m trying to bring logic into a book about a haunted Indiana Jones. I need to reconsider my life direction…
Anyways, this qualm aside, I’m gonna say…
I am a big fan of the style of this book, it really tickles my nostalgia bone. While the development of character seems to be lacking (and there’s proof that the writers don’t seem to care much about it for the side characters), I have high hopes that I will get more than enough “flavor” to make up for those shortcomings. And so, on to book 2!
Thanks for reading guys, I hope you enjoyed it. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Thanks again and have a great day!