Indie Comics Spotlight: Five Ghosts, Non-Humans, Ugli Studios Presents

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray #1

Who’s got two thumbs, international renown and is possessed by five  ghosts? That guy, Fabian Gray. His adventures are detailed in a brand  new series called Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray #1, soon to be released by Image Comics. The issue is written by Frank  J. Barbiere, illustrated by Chris Mooneyham and colored by S.M. Vidaurri.    “I’m not a thief,” insists Fabian Gray, “I’m a treasure  hunter.” Both occupations are made that much easier by the fact  that Fabian is possessed by spirits of a detective, vampire, samurai,  wizard and archer. All spirits tend to show up when needed, giving Fabian  the edge he needs to break into just about any place and take what he  wants. What he really wants is an arcane object that might bring his  sister out of a comatose state.    First things first. Barbiere is onto something here. The concept of  five ghosts inhabiting the same body and giving that person the ability  to draw upon them is awesome. It makes the story hum along and makes  Fabian Gray something of a Swiss army knife of treasure hunters. It’s  really inventive and makes for a fantastic read.    Second, the entire book has that pulpy feel to it. Fabian is a treasure  hunter of a bygone era who traverses the globe in style. Fabian Gray  has just enough of a cocky sensibility to him that his adventures are  worth following, while at the same time he’s constantly being threatened  by losing control of the possession. That era includes castles, bi-planes  and natives, all of which make the story fun. It moves at an incredibly  fast clip, giving the reader barely any time to stop and catch up, but  for a book like this it really works.    Mooneyham’s art is phenomenal. It really captures the essence of the  tale and keeps it in the pulpy atmosphere. There are some especially  cool panels with the ghosts, where they’re in the background of Fabian’s  panels, mimicking his action to the intended effect. The characters  are extremely well-defined and the action is easy to follow, with beautifully  rendered illustrations, accompanied by darker tones and hues.    Five  Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray #1 is the start of something fun and relatively nonchalant. There’s a  villain introduced towards the end of the book who looks to be nefarious  and all signs point to the book only getting wilder as it progresses.  If you like your comics fresh, full of pulp and rife with globetrotting  adventures, this is the book you need to read.    Five  Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray #1 is available March 20.

Non-Humans #2

When that teddy bear in your room starts talking and making a move,  he’s either Ted, the lovable (but crass) bear of the same name from  the recent movie, or he’s a non-human, a new biological entity in the  comic of the same name. Image Comics has released the second issue of Non-Humans and man do things  really get out of hand. The issue is written by Glen Brunswick, illustrated  by Whilce Portacio, lettered by Rus Wooten and colored by Brian Valeza.    The issue opens with Detective Aimes catching up with the ventriloquist  puppet, who’s not really good at throwing voices, but excels at throwing  live ammunition the way of his recently murdered partner. On top of  that, he’s still working to get along with Eden, a burgeoning relationship  that really accelerates after a visit to the home of retired actress  Molly Wentworth. Their camaraderie will be necessary if they want to  contend with the freshly revealed villain.    The concept of inanimate objects usually comes with a tinge of existentialism  and Non-Humans  #2 is  no exception. Brunswick continues to infuse the story with the concept  that previously inanimate objects are coming to terms with their newfound  existence. Of course, this has led to battle lines being drawn, with  some supporting the non-humans and those who don’t. There’s a bunch  of reasons why you would side for or against the non-humans, all of  which are valid to an extent. Brunswick humanizes Aimes a bit in this  issue, explaining his fear of King Kong being tied to a monkey coming  to life as a child. That monkey was born of his own rage, making him  a character that has every reason to hate non-humans, yet tolerates  them to an extent.    Portacio’s art is strong. Emotions pour from the characters’ faces,  both humans and non-humans. It helps reinforce the dystopia that Los  Angeles has become, with non-humans fighting to become more than just  a novelty. Wentworth looks sufficiently evil and a lot of the fight  scenes are intense, replete with explosions, wounds and blood.    The burgeoning war between humans and non-humans takes a step forward  in the second issue. Non-humans aren’t content with being relegated  to the shadows and regulated, while Aimes and Eden might actually start  getting along. They’ll likely go up against a wounded army of non-humans,  which should make for some exciting reading.    Non-Humans  #2 is  in stores now.

Ugli Studios Presents #1

Up and coming publishers rely on clever storytelling to get you hooked.  That could be creative stories, crazy characters or story twists that  make the endings less than conventional. It’s the latter that Ugli Studios Presents #1 relies on for its storytelling components. The first story is called  “Through the Eyes of Grizelda,” and is written by Jason Lenox  and David Paul, illustrated by Lenox, colored by Dani Kaulakis and lettered  by Paul. The second story is called “The Great Vermin” and  features the same creative team.    “Through the Eyes of Grizelda,” and it’s got an Army of Darkness feel to it, with  a great warrior fighting an evil sorcerer. The story takes place during  an epic back and forth battle, culminating in quite a surprising twist.  The second story is called “The Great Vermin” and is something  out of The  Twilight Zone, where aliens and humans can’t necessarily get along.    Both stories rely on pulling the reader in one direction throughout  and then jerking them abruptly in another direction at the end. The  first story does this much more successfully than the second one. “Through  the Eyes of Grizelda” is actually fairly strong–definitely the  stronger of the two. It blends a warrior-like narration with an undead  army fighting relentlessly. The strength in it lies in the entire misdirect  that pays off pretty handsomely at the end in a very clever way. On  the other hand, the ending of “The Great Vermin” is a little  disappointing. It feels as if it has grander ambitions then it manages  to achieve and falls a little short. It’s a lot less demanding on the  reader than the first story and the payoff isn’t as rewarding. It feels  a little cliché.    Lenox also handles the art duties and, again, it’s the first story where  his work shows better. The undead army and warrior are illustrated with  a dark grittiness, but not much in the way of detail. The second story  is mostly characters in baggy spacesuits and doesn’t really allow much  of the art to shine through.    The team behind Ugli Studios Presents #1 have grand ambitions, but the issue falls a little short. The first  story does show promise and could be good with a bit more polish, but  the second story is a bit less entertaining. Here’s hoping the second  issue could be a lot more coherent and feature stronger storylines.    Ugli Studios Presents #1 is available now.


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