Review by Frank Plowright
After the emotional upheaval that concluded Lost Coastlines most people would have wanted to put their feet up by the fire at home and reflect for a while. Fabian Gray doesn’t have that luxury. He’s straight back into action, this time in Romania where clues indicate his abducted brother in law is being held. To complicate matters, a plague of zombies is on the loose.
Gray is an old fashioned pulp adventure hero, but one with a specific aim in mind. He’s thrown into the gothic horrors of Transvlvania, with Frank J. Barbiere recycling every Hammer horror film he’s ever seen. The imperious vampire, the vampire hunter, the mad scientist undertaking unspeakable experiments, and the cackling deformed henchman in a 15th century plague mask are mixed into a plot as old and brittle as the manuscript paper on which Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. It’s tired old hokum, and worse, tired old hokum dragged on for five chapters.
Chris Mooneyham’s art is the redeeming feature of Five Ghosts. He’s become better with every volume, and this is his best work to date. His storytelling’s always been strong, as his sense of atmosphere, and the basic drawing skills have improved in leaps and bounds. One only has to compare these pages with those produced for The Haunting of Fabian Gray.
Also very good is S.M. Vidaurri, who provides a back-up tale of the dreamstone set in 8th century England. His art is very design led, incorporating background patterns, intricately composed pages and vivid colour effects, but the story drops hints without ever coming to life. Barbiere also writes a short back-up illustrated by the promising Jamie Jones explaining how Gray earned the enmity of the Cabal. It has a compressed urgency that would have better served the lead strip.
In January 2016 Barbiere took to posting an online denial that Five Ghosts is no more, claiming it was only on temporary hiatus. As more and more time passes with no further sightings of new material this is starting to have all the credibility of Father Ted’s claim that the money was just resting in his account.