Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Grey by Frank J. Barbiere & Chris Mooneyham is an exciting homage to pulp fiction with a fresh twist.
Fabian Grey is a ruthless, cunning thief terrorizing the early 20th century. He’s clawed his way to the top of treasure hunting game but that isn’t enough. He wants more.
When his greed leads to disaster, his life is changed forever.
The cause of his tragedy, the mythical Dreamstone artifact causes him to be possessed by five literary ghosts.
Now with their power and abilities, Fabian sets out to redeem himself and save the only person he’s ever loved… his twin sister!
Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Grey is a kick-ass action adventure, full of pulp horror and fantasy with gorgeous illustrations.
Read on to find out why this isn’t your grandpa’s ‘pulp fiction’ or ‘boys adventure’ magazine story…
A Ruthless Treasure Hunter and His Five Unwelcome Houseguests
Europe before World War 2. We meet Fabian Grey as he breaks into the impenetrable Castrum Hohenburg high in the mountains of Austria. On orders of a client he’s braving the Nazi infested castle to recover a rare family jewel.
Fortunately Fabian has a useful… condition. You see our hero is possessed by five literary ghosts, who lend their unique talents and abilities to his business.
Using the power of Archer, Detective, Magician, Samurai and Vampire –Fabian makes short work of the Nazis, grabs the jewel and makes it back to Barcelona in time to bed his beautiful Spanish client Jezebel.
When she asks him what’s next, he says he’s returning home to sort out some unfinished family business.
We cut to Fabian’s arrival in London. His brother-in law and best friend Sebastian picks him up from ye olde train station.
Back at the country manor, because all English adventurers live in manors, the lads have a little heart to heart.
Frustrated that Jezebel’s family jewel wasn’t magical, Fabian consoles himself with the thought that at least she paid well for the job (no pun intended). Sebastian musses that maybe they are just chasing legends and that it might be time to let her go.
Hmm who is this mysterious woman that our friends are trying to save?
Before we get an answer, Fabian insists that a cure must be out there and proceeds to have the most epic and wired seizure ever. Shrouded in light and floating above the ground, ghostly voices warn that “This vessels is grows weary”.
Our hero promptly blacks out and crashes to the floor. That happens quite a bit in Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Grey.
Zombies, Warlocks & Their Sinister Overlords
Meanwhile in Barcelona. A strange creature in a top hat stumbles into Jezebels shop. Reciting a line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth the stranger says “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes”.
That sound completely innocent and nonthreatening… he must be a really nice chap.
Or not. Turns out the stranger is zombie who’s rather interested in the whereabouts of one Fabian Grey. And he won’t take no for an answer.
Being a smart, modern small business owner Jez does the only sensible thing. She blows herself and her attacker up with a hand grenade.
Oh boy talk about making irrevocable decisions…
Back in London Fabian has regained consciousness. He’s haunted by nightmares of a woman calling out for him to save her.
He finds Sebastian out on the balcony, having a smoke while gazing at the city of London by night. Sebs tells him that he’s been unconscious for four days. He also tells Fabian that he shouldn’t push himself so hard.
Our hero will have none of it. He thinks that the accident that put his twin sister, who is also Sebastian’s fiancé, is his fault!
If Fabian feels that way, Sebastian says he’s got a lead on an artifact that could help. Apparently it involves an ancient relic, giant spiders and a lost temple in the jungles of Africa. What could possible go wrong?
Jezebel is dug out of the rubble of her shop in Barcelona. Badly hurt she can only whisper one thing “Fabian they’re coming”.
In a creepy, ruined house somewhere else a hooded figure stares into a mirror and swears that Fabian Grey’s power will soon belong to his masters.
With everything at stake it will take everything that Fabian and his five ghosts have got to survive. Will our hero succeed in his quest to save his twin?
You’ll have to read Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Grey to find out.
The Art and Writing of Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Grey
I really enjoyed Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Grey! It takes elements of Victorian and 1930s pulp fiction and builds a compelling action adventure around them.
Frank J. Barbieres’ story is a lot deeper than what it looks like on the surface. While Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Grey is loud and proud about its pulp origins, it’s also an exploration about the collective unconscious.
Fabian’s ghostly passengers are physical manifestations of stories brought to life by his accident with the mysterious Dreamstone. This kinda reminds me of The Unwritten, another awesome graphic novel. But Five Ghosts is way more action packed.
Chris Mooneyham’s illustrations are amazing and super appropriate for this graphic novel. He channels a bit of Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and has a scratchy, dark style that is wonderful for the lovecraftian visuals of Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Grey.
I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more work from this talented artist.
Was there anything I didn’t like about this graphic novel?
Hmm… Fabian blacks out after using his powers sometimes. But there’s a good reason for that.
This graphic novel manages to balance the over-exaggeration of pulp fiction with the format of a modern adventure stories.
Though the creators borrow a lot from pop culture and other sources Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Grey stands on its own and is a fun bit of entertainment.
If you like pulp fiction, Cthulhu-like monsters and globetrotting treasure hunters Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Grey. It manages to provide awesome action while also not taking itself too seriously.
It’s a supernatural adventure that explores the root of all human mythology in the collective unconscious.
PS: This is an awesome, kick-ass homage to pulp and pop fiction. If you like either of those genres, you owe it to yourself to read this grand supernatural adventure.