Archive for magic

Tim from Last Week Reviews: Five Ghosts #1!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2016 by Tim from Last Week

Writer: Frank J. BarbiereFive Ghosts v1
Artist: Chris Mooneyham
Publisher: Image Comics
Released: 3/20/2013

This is my first experience with Frank Barbiere, but he has been making the rounds of the top comic publishers for the past few years. Barbiere has worked on Solar: Man of the Atom (Dynamite), The Broken World (BOOM!), Blackout (Dark Horse), Lobo (DC), Avengers World (Marvel), and White Suits, also published by Image.

This is also my first experience with Chris Mooneyham. Although his list of comic titles is shorter than Barbiere’s, it does seem his work on Predator: Fire and Stone (Dark Horse) has garnered him some great press. He also did work in Anathema (Tiny Behemoth Press).

Five Ghosts is the story of Fabian Gray, a 1930s era “treasure hunter.” Think Indiana Jones, and you’re probably close. Using Indy as reference also works for the feel of the story and premise. This is an adventure book, similar to the “men’s adventure books” from decades ago. Although I haven’t read far enough into the series, yet, I expect to find many of the tropes from pulp adventures (I’m expecting to see a “damsel in distress,” very soon…). However, our treasure hunter has a secret power (curse?): he is possessed by 5 ghosts. Specifically, 5 “literary” ghosts: the “detective”, the “wizard”, the “archer”, the “samurai”, and the “vampire” (they are not named in the 1st issue, but I think we can feel free to think of them as Sherlock Holmes, Merlin, Robin Hood, Miyamoto Musashi, and Dracula). Through some incident in his past, Gray was possessed by the ghosts, and he is able to draw upon their abilities to assist in his adventures. Sometimes. When trying to cross from one mountain to a castle on another mountain, Gray uses the archer’s skills to traverse the chasm. However, when fighting tribal warriors in Africa, the wizard’s powers fail Gray, and is taken prisoner. Gray’s motivation comes from his efforts to save his sister, who seems cursed, as well. He will need all of his treasure hunting skills (and his ghosts’ powers, too!) to find a way to save his sister (and possibly himself!).

The first issue was a quick read, but it was enjoyable. I find a certain enjoyment in this kind of story. Yes, the plot is not deep; find things, save people (maybe the world, too??). I enjoy the adventure of it. Yes, we do see him fight Nazis. Yes, we do see him fight African tribesman (are they simply tribesman, though?). Yes, there is a bi-plane involved. And, yes, there is a real bad guy (who answers to even badder bad guys). And, the occult/mysticism seems to touch every player in the story. While I am not a fan of all of the original elements of pulp adventures (i.e. “damsel-in-distress,” noted above…), done well with a modern feel, these stories can be great fun.

What really stood out, for me, though, was Chris Mooneyham’s art. It is an interesting combination of very detailed and very simple, all at the same time; which seems perfect for adventure, but I suspect it could work well for just about any kind of story. He has this moody, eery feel, but everything still seems real. Which, really, does sound like the right look for a book combining old-fashioned adventure and the occult. I find Mooneyham’s art similar to Lee Weeks, a veteran artist who has worked extensively for Dark Horse, DC, and Marvel, but is most well-known for his work on Marvel’s Daredevil (which has also been known to mix adventure and mysticism).

I read issue #1 as part of the first collection of Five Ghosts (“The Haunting of Fabian Gray”). Since I am a notoriously slow reader, I had to stop at one issue, so I could complete this review. However, I fully intend to read the remainder of this collection. Just for fun. Five Ghosts ran for 17 issues, plus a special, and has been collected into 3 trade paperback collections (vol 1 contains issues 1-5, vol 2 contains issues 6-12, and vol 3 contains issues 13-17 and the special), each priced between $9.99 and $14.99.

Five Ghosts, and other great comics, can be found at Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex. located at:

Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex
4456 Main Street
Manayunk, PA 19127

Visit him on Facebook at


Tim from Last Week Reviews: Black Magic #1!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2016 by Tim from Last Week

Story: Greg RuckaBlackMagick_01-1
Art: Nicola Scott
Publisher: Image Comics
Released: 10/28/2015

Greg Rucka has been praised for his crime drama work (specifically, DC Comics’ Gotham Central, co-written with Ed Brubaker), and has plenty of experience writing strong female characters (Oni Press’ Queen & Country and DC’s Wonder Woman, as well as Gotham Central).

Nicola Scott has received much praise for her art, starting with Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars: Empire, then on to DC Comics (Birds of Prey and Secret Six), and more recently she was the regular artist on DC’s Earth 2 (a title focusing on the Justice Society of America).

Black Magic follows Rowan Black, a Portsmouth Police Department Detective. The first scene reveals that Black is also a practicing witch. During a ritual, she is called to a hostage scene, where the captor has asked for her, specifically. Very quickly, it is revealed that he knows her secret, and that there are others who know it; others who want her dead because of who she is. Initially using her negotiation skills to save the hostages, she has to fall back on her Magic to save herself. There is also a text piece included at the end of the story, which gives some History from several hundred years before, and hints at a group that may have connections to witches, but who are not interested in involving themselves in the mass hysteria of the masses’ witch hunts.

I found the story to be a very comfortable read. It was not too heavy, or too thick, to read. Although police procedure (not among my favorite genres) is included, it is not the most important piece, and I enjoy the little bits of characterization we receive on Detective Black as well as that of a few of the witches and police officers. However, we still do not know much about any of the characters, so there is definitely something to look forward to in future issues. So far, the Magic is not a “main character,” so I have no idea how well that will be handled, story-wise. Hopefully, for me, Black will need to utilize both her Magic and police skills, together, to progress through the story.

I have been watching Nicola Scott’s art improve over the past few years, and I love seeing artists grow. Her painted style used for Black Magic is really beautiful. It is at once both realistic and pretty (it makes me think of the way I responded to John Bolton’s work in Black Dragon published by Marvel Comics’ Epic imprint back in the early 1980s), and seems perfectly suited to a combination of the gritty world of crime drama along with the beautiful, natural world of Magic. I absolutely cannot wait to see more of Nicola’s interpretation of the Magical world. My only issue with the art is that I would like more color. First, this book is not strictly black and white, so there is color, but it is a very flat color experience. However, the only colors seen, so far, are a bit during the ritual at the beginning (which could have used even more color, to add to the flavor of the scene) and a very small bit at the end (when Black uses her power to save herself). But, again, without seeing the entire series, there may be a story reason for this particular level of color usage that we do not know, yet.

Although I am not super excited about this series, yet, I think I want to know what comes next, so I plan to read the rest of the story. Black Magic is being published monthly. Issue #2 was released on November 25th and issue #3 was released on December 30th. Issue #4 will hit stores in January, and #5 in February. I will be looking for the collected edition of Black Magic, which will be released in the spring of this year.

Black Magic, and other great comics, can be found at Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex located at 4456 Main Street in Manayunk, PA! Visit him on Facebook at

The Legends of Turnbull Canyon

Posted in Urban Legend with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2015 by Xander Woolf


Turnbull Canyon is located in Southern California, creating the border between the towns of Wittier and City of Industry (yes, that’s the actual name of the town). It is a popular attraction for hikers and fitness nuts with it’s tough but manageable trails and beautiful scenery. According to locals, however, this canyon is the setting of many a terrifying event. Legend has it that not only is the canyon haunted, but it is also the preferred location for dark magic rituals, human sacrifices, and several grizzly murders. In this post, I will detail as many of the horrific events as I can.

Called “Hutukngna” by the Gabrileños Native Americans, this nature formation was considered off limits as there were numerous sightings of ghosts and evil spirits. It is believed that Turnbull Canyon was the battleground of many Native American Wars. Some locals have claimed that they have heard the sound of war drums coming from the canyon.

This tribe of Native Americans was so named the Gabrileños after converting to Christianity through the San Gabriel Mission. Back in this time, it was not uncommon that Spanish missionaries would kill those who refused to convert. Legend has it that many of these killings took place in the canyon itself. The idea that the spirits of these murdered Natives have lingered lends credence to the belief that the canyon is haunted.

Fast forward to the 1930s. During the Great Depression, the canyon was used for dark and mysterious purposes. Back in that time, it was common for families to send their children to orphanages because they simply did not have the food to feed them. Local legend says that a cult would adopt the children through these orphanages and sacrifice them to Satan in the canyon. Locals have claimed to see the ghosts of these children, as well as hooded figures walking the trails at night. These sightings still occur today.

Within Turnbull Canyon, there is a tree referred to as The Hanging Tree. It is so named because of a man who was found hanging from one of its limbs. Witnesses have said that you can still see this man hanging from the tree at the time of his death. There is no information as to what time of day this might have occurred. I also have no information as to when in history this might have taken place.

In 1952, there was a plane crash, causing 29 deaths, 21 of which were children. An American Airlines plane crashed into the tallest hill of the canyon. There is no record of an American Airlines flight in that area at all and no planes were missing from their fleet. No one on board had identification, including the pilot. The only record of the crash even happening was a small article in the Wittier Daily News. Locals believe that the dark magic that lingers in the canyon caused this horrifying crash to happen.

In 1962, a bizarre death took place. In the ruins of a mental institution that had burned down in the 1940s, a group of teenagers were having a party. One of the boys found an old electroshock machine. When he picked it up, he was electrocuted with a voltage strong enough to be fatal. The bizarre part of the death comes when we find out that the electricity had been shut off after the fire 20 years previously.

In 2002, a young woman by the name of Gloria Gaxiola was murdered on Turnbull Canyon Rd. She was shot, then dragged behind a car down this road for 5 miles. The police caught the killers and administered justice. Being a popular road for racing, there have been other unfortunate auto-related deaths, including that of a CHP motorcycle Officer in Sept. 2005, who was struck by drifters.

Believe it or not, there are even more stories associated with this terrifying location. Located just an hour or so outside of Los Angeles, Turnbull canyon is one of the scariest places I’ve ever researched. Home to ghosts, evil spirits, cults, and other strange occurrences, this canyon just screams “Stay Away!” So, naturally, I want to go there.


Weird California
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