"Five Ghosts #14" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Frank J. Barbiere
Illustrated by Chris Mooneyham
2014, 32 Pages, $3.50
Comic released on December 3rd, 2014
Possessed by five literary ghosts, Fabian Gray continues his journey to find a cure for his sister Silvia who now lays in a coma after an explosion with Dreamstone. While traveling through the forests of Romania, he comes across a batch of vampires before being aided by the legendary hunter Van Helsing. There is one small problem: one of those ghosts that lurks within Fabian is that of Dracula. That's probably not going to help these two become BFFs.
Five Ghosts takes a turn into definitive horror with the current storyline, Monsters & Men. Sure, Dracula has been along for the ride, but up until now, the book has been more pulpy adventure and less blood and gore (although there has been a lot of the latter, especially beheadings). The beauty of this title is that any literary figure is fair game and writer Frank J. Barbiere is dipping into the old-school scary stories now with Van Helsing.
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Of all the ghosts bouncing around Fabian's head, Dracula has been the one that he's struggled with the most. When he uses the vampire's power, he loses control and things get messy fast. Fangs burst from his jaw and his hands turn to razor sharp claws as he quenches a sudden bloodlust. Dracula is arguably the most powerful of the bunch, but Fabian tries to keep him in check, only calling upon him when the situation is most dire.
You can almost see the Dracula moment coming with this issue. I mean, it's kind of obvious with the presence of Van Helsing, but what begins as a stroll through the forest quickly escalates into a life or death battle as a horde of vampires attacks. This is where Five Ghosts really excels. There have been some tremendous fight scenes throughout this series and this issue is no different. Artist Chris Mooneyham really captures the excitement of the brawl. You can almost hear the soundtrack pumping louder and louder with each swing of a blade. There is a frenetic quality to Mooneyham's artwork, with tension filling each panel. The characters are poised to strike at any moment.
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Silhouette is used sparingly, but very effectively within this issue, allowing us to fill in the horrid details with our imagination. There's a panel with Fabian's colleague Sebastian in chains where a doctor is seen in shadow with only a hypodermic needle and a single lens of his glasses in view. You instantly get this sense of terror about him and what he may be doing with that needle. This effect is used in the big vampire battle royale too, showing Fabian calling on the samurai ghost to make short work of some limbs and heads with his trusty sword.
Five Ghosts has always been packed with pulp and adventure but now there's a healthy dose of horror mixed in. This is some of the best serialized storytelling you're going to find on comic shelves, filled with excitement, heartbreak, and terror.