Image Comics has been on a roll lately releasing a cavalcade of extremely good material the last five or so six years. One of those books is Five Ghosts by Frank J. Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham. It has everything a good adventure book should have – sword fights, magic, ghosts, ominous chanting, revenge, hidden lands, giant spiders and spider men!, a self-doubting hero, a sidekick who is also a best friend and so much more.
This book immediately pops off the shelf with a simple three-colour scheme cover by Chris Mooneyham. Not sure where this guy has been hiding, but his art is incredibly dynamic and expressive. He immediately reminded me a little of the Kuberts and in his bio at the end of the book it seems he attended the Kubert School. Go figure! Even though it has a little bit of a resemblance, he is an artist all his own and combing over every page of the book, you cannot help but marvel at the incredibly tight pencils he put down. His use of blacks and shadow make the monsters and the ghosts quite menacing, and frankly lovely to look at. Surely you would never want to meet them in real life, but upon the page you cannot help but love them. Mooneyham is a gifted storyteller as there are several silent sequences where you can really see him shine and bring the book to life.
Also bringing the book to life obviously is author Frank J. Barbiere. Taking a whole bunch of genres and themes and mashing them up seems to be one of the latest writing fads, but it works when done well and Five Ghosts is done well. The comic reminds me of the old comics from the 60s and 70s when they left you wanting more, where that last panel was so epic you just could not wait for the next instalment. And this book keeps the reader hooked. The art and the writing are a perfect blend of two artists coming together in a harmony rarely seen on a lot of books. Perhaps that is why creator-owned books are doing so well, the fact that to succeed they must pour everything they have into it unlike work-for-hire.
For me, this book just came out of nowhere and was probably one of the best purchases I have made in a long time. There is literally nothing wrong with this book. I am really looking forward to the second volume which hopefully will surpass this volume in excellence. With Saga, Fatale, American Vampire, East of West and so many other great books out on the stands right now, I am not sure if I can call this my favourite – but it is damn close!
5 out of 5