Many of the inconsistencies from the first trade, like a rushed pace and lack of character development, were resolved in this stellar second issue from Barbiere. The Indiana Jones-style adventure gets cranked up to 11 here with two storylines that further the fate of Fabian Gray. The first story is a shorter line that takes place in Japan and recounts Fabian's early martial arts training in a dojo while showing the reader the current circumstance of the dojo and its keeper, an old flame of Fabian's. The lines and coloring were impressive for this story, and the vividness helped it jump off the page.
The second story gives even more information on Fabian's background when some of the men he used to associate (re: rob tombs and ancient graves) with catch up to Fabian. The sepia-colored, sketchy flashbacks into Fabian's memories help flesh the kind of person he was in the early days. The changes to the Fabian of the current story are that he calmed down, but he still hasn't lost his insatiable desire for things outside of his reach. The timeline of the second story becomes a bit confused when we're following two dreamstone bearers, Fabian's memory, and then Fabian's story itself, but the elliptical style works for the jagged, surreal setting of the Island of Dreams. I wasn't sure the resolution for this story was as satisfying at the first story, particularly as it ends on an unrelated cliffhanger. On the other hand, the spirit of winsome and dangerous adventures remains and makes this volume a fun read.
A recurring theme for Barbiere is the prominence of women in Fabian's life, but it comes like a Bond wannabe in some ways. Both stories prominently featured women were romantically involved with Fabian in the past, and there's a hint that there may still be a spark there. Attention is shifted away from romance in favor of action, but the previous lovers are definitely used as plot devices, maimed and murdered as a means for Fabian to go super saiyan with his dreamstone powers to gain revenge. By the end of the volume, this plot device felt tired and I found myself urging the women to go have adventures of their own, particularly because in their introductions, they were portrayed as tenacious, intelligent, and resourceful. The Women in Refrigerators effect is strong with this story, and I'm hoping this theme will be avoided in the upcoming third volume.
Overall, these are fun, adult adventure stories with gorgeous art and enough originality with the plot to be interesting. Many of the side characters are little better than archetypes, but the main story involving Fabian's attempt to reclaim his sister to keep me reading.