Five Ghosts is one of the most derivatively original books I have ever read. It boldly tears a page straight out of the 30s adventure story book, much like Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones. the Story — written by Frank Barbierre and illustrated by Chris Mooneyham — follow’s Fabian Gray, a treasure hunter who was not blessed, as indy always was, with a despicable nazi readily on hand to interact with the cursed treasure before he, thus making him aware of its detrimental effects.
After touching the mystical “Dreamstone”, Gray is possessed by five ghosts, A wizard, and archer, a samurai, a detective, and a vampire (read: Merlin, Robin Hood, Miyamoto Musashi, Sherlock Holmes, and Dracula). With this possession, he also gains the abilities of each. Holmes superior deductive skills, or Musashi’s powerful sword skills are a great aid for him throughout his journey.
The images this series contains are perfectly magnificent. Done in a far from realistic style, the artwork is itself a sort of nod to the genre that spawned this work (especially the cover pages) but is far more than basic homage. The way that darkness and minimalism are used to portray combat is mercilessly intense. Observe the panel below, particularly the artist’s use of blood as an aesthetic. Several panels are framed in red, so the combatants stand out starkly. The panel that is only a shot of a blood spatter is also striking.
With “Five Ghosts” you don’t get colorful quirky characters. You get a hazy story with a heavy intrigue factor, and minimal background knowledge. I’ve only read vol. 1 of Five Ghosts so far, but I’ve been extremely impressed. Despite coming from a lesser known publishing company, Five Ghosts is a work of extraordinarily high caliber, and a must read for any lover of literature, graphic literature, or simply a good story.