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In the last few issues, Five ghosts has transitioned from a mini-series to an ongoing, and nothing could make me happier. Five Ghosts #9 completes the “Lost Coastlines” story line, leaving the readers with more questions about Fabian Gray’s future, while answering several important questions about his past.
Gray’s ship and crew are set upon by pirates from the Screaming Squid, a ship helmed by an old enemy, Asif, who carries a talisman that negates Fabian’s powers. The method of attack is pure literary pulp, using diving suits reminiscent of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (The screaming squid could also be a reference, yes?)
We only see the attack in a few panels, as most of the issue is devoted to Asif’s ranting at, and torture of, Fabian Gray. In a flashback, Barbiere and Mooneyham finally deliver the reasons behind Asif’s hatred: Fabian Gray killed Asif’s brother.
The artistry of the flashback demonstrates Mooneyham and Affe’s tremendous skills. Told primarily in tan and white colors, the flashback highlights Mooneyham’s intricate yet explosive artwork, while making one appreciate the more dynamic colors of the book when reality reasserts itself.
The penultimate moment of the issue, however, is when Asif and the Screaming Squid are attacked by another possessing a dreamstone in a gorgeous splash page. While this does leave us with more questions, it is clear that Barbiere is setting the stage for more interesting developments to come, and hopefully delivering Fabian more allies. Considering Gray’s past, he’s going to need them.