If you’re of a certain age you’re well aware of Drop Dead Fred. It was a huge hit amongst me and my friends in part because it was so creepy, but also because it tries to make the imaginary friend concept a reality. That movie of course bombed and has been forgotten by many, but it always lingered in the back of my mind that someone could take the imaginary friend concept and pull it into a new realm. This upcoming comic from Vertigo does that and more.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“Polly Peachpit. Those were the words ten-year-old Brinke Calle said when she was found covered in her own blood by the woods in rural Cannon Falls, MN. Her best friend, Melba, had just attempted to murder her because a spider girl named Polly Peachpit told her to.
Since that day, Melba has spent seven years in a mental health facility. Tomorrow is her eighteenth birthday. Tomorrow, she’ll be transferred to a federal prison. Tomorrow, her real sentence will begin.
That is, until she receives a visit from FBI Agent Virgil Crockett. Crockett explains that there is another world beyond ours, where hungry spectral aliens stalk the minds of the impressionable and weak. These things, called IMPs (Interdimensional Mental Parasites) feed on compliance. They convince hosts to do things for them, and the more they feed, the stronger they become. More IMPs stream into the world each day, invisible to everyone but his or her hosts.
After years of drugs and counseling, Polly and Melba have developed a unique relationship–and to Crockett, this relationship represents something her people can work with. In exchange for release from prison, Crockett asks Melba (and Polly) to serve as IMP hunters. For Melba, it’s a chance to prove that she’s innocent, convinced to murder by a monster…a monster she must now unleash.”
Why does this matter?
Tim Seeley has been writing good horror comics for quite a while and his turn to Grayson and recently Nightwing has shown he can write a killer thriller too. This series seems to suggest, why not both? Stephen Molnar draws in a style that’s realistic and that makes the imaginary part all the more frightening.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is one of those comics where, if you let it, you’ll be drawn in with your imagination flaring. I say this because the comic opens setting up a few kids hanging out and smoking some weed. It seems like an average summer night and the captions run a bit long. These draw you in though and make you believe all is fine and normal. Until it’s not. Seeley lays the hammer down with some graphic alarm and from there the story shifts to six years later. You’ll be pondering what happened, which allows Seeley to flesh out Melba, a girl who has been in juvie for quite a few years and doesn’t belong there.
I marveled at how Seeley practices a good deal of patience with the pace of this comic because it’s a risky gamble. It works splendidly though, and you’ll ease into each of these characters and the pain they are harboring. There’s a brokenness to them that’s relatable and you’ll be rooting for them. Then the whole imaginary friend thing gets dropped on readers and the ride takes a strong hit to the gas pedal. The premise of this book is super cool. I won’t spoil it, but Seeley unveils something that’s enticing and interesting. I wanted to learn more about how the rules work, the history of all of this, and how it fits into reality. It’s the sort of idea that’ll get your imagination running as you begin to understand there’s another world living among us! It’s not real of course, but it’s a very cool concept and it’s surprising that it hasn’t been done before.
The art in this first issue is top notch and it’s one of the reasons the slower pace works. You’ll be drawn into these characters due to the strong facial expressions. The scenes in a prison have dull backgrounds, but this only enhances your attention to the characters themselves. When the monsters to appear it’s frightening as all hell. I’d compare Melba’s imaginary friend to a kind of Japanese ghost as it’s clean and yet something is unnerving about the design. In a key scene that follows the page below, the art pulls you closer to the monster in a very creepy way. Much of this comic is setup, but damn are the last few pages freaky.
This would freeze me in fear.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I think it takes a bit of extra patience to read this issue, but if you give it the time you’ll be rewarded splendidly. There are a lot of talking heads, but much of the information is important on many levels.
Is It Good?
I haven’t been this excited for a comic book series in a long time. Reading this completely blind was a treat. It’s scary, interesting, compelling with its character work, and most importantly original. Read this to be reminded why the comic medium offers advantages others can’t match.