Fabian’s adventures have taken him all over the world in search of Dreamstone, bringing him face-to-face with Nazis, ninjas, and now… pirates? In “Five Ghosts” #8, Frank J. Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham set their swashbuckling storyline sailing with a new, wonderfully diverse crew and dashing action sequences filled with high-flying fun. Although this new exploit features some problematic historical slips, Barbiere and Mooneyham present a delightfully rollicking tale with a few intriguing developments.
So far, Barbiere and Mooneyham have proven themselves more than capable of taking cliches and using them in clever ways — a device, in fact, that gives the series a bulk of its pulp-inspired charm. Unfortunately, their use of it in “Five Ghosts’ #8 runs a little thin as they attempt to bring in sword-wielding, parrot-owning pirates who deal their business out of wooden ships… in the mid-1900s. Having already established Nazi-related plot lines, Barbiere and Mooneyham employ a distinctly 18th century notion of pirates in their second arc, clashing with the timeline they established in their first few issues. That isn’t to argue, of course, that their fantasy-driven story needs to be 100% historically accurate; however, this regression to outdated technology — seafaring or otherwise — stands to be more than a little distracting.
This aside, “Five Ghosts” #8 is a solid issue with some truly terrific moments. Barbiere does poke some fun at the old pirate-with-a-parrot cliche, injecting humor into the story in a deliberately tongue-in-cheek way. The opening sequence establishes a brilliant new mystery by introducing an all-female pirate crew headed by a captain who may have a few ghosts of her own; her and her crew’s daring rescue certainly amp up the excitement for their inevitable clash with Fabian. What’s more, in including this new crew and a few of Jezebel’s friends, Barbiere and Mooneyham vastly diversify the book’s cast of characters and expand their world in a brilliant way.
Mooneyham is back in full swing after his one issue break, true to form with his lovely, whimsical style that so encapsulates the terrific pulp fiction feel of the comic. His character design is gorgeous and varied, giving each new figure some noticeably distinct qualities. He moves the story along seamlessly with smooth action sequences and creative layouts, occasionally going pages with little to no dialogue. Even so, the narrative is clear, precise, and well executed under Mooneyham’s pencils. The night scenes are beautifully rendered in Lauren Affe’s soft greens and blues, which go on to make a striking contrast when a ship goes up in flames.
“Five Ghosts” #8 does a fantastic job setting up for a big, climactic clash, promising to have even more action and be even more fun. Barbiere and Mooneyham have expanded their universe in the best way possible, inventing a whole host of interesting new personalities and crafting a joyous, high-spirited adventure.