[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Stephen Molnar, Quinton Winter
What if imaginary friends were real? And what if they weren’t so friendly? This new series by Tim Seeley and Stephen Molnar answers these questions. In a world where “Interdimensional Mental Parasites” exist, it’s up to the IMP division of the FBI to keep people safe. Melba Li is one of the unfortunate ones who can see these parasites and so the FBI recruits her as a member of the IMP division.
First things first, the introduction is fantastic. With little to go on other than the cover, the introduction is perfect to hook readers in and make them uncomfortable. Straight from page one, readers will feel uncomfortable, and it’ll only amplify from there.
Beyond the opening pages, this series looks to have a great premise. The contrast between the silliness of the imaginary friends along with the horror theme lends itself to a great story. It is well paced to somewhat gently let the readers into this world. The introduction plays a big part in this, but at no point does the reader feel confused, only interested and unsettled.
Now avoiding any major spoilers I need to comment on the IMP designs. The scope for creatures is huge with a series like this. The potential for humour is there with characters like Marshal Loch, a sea monster that wears a cowboy hat, but there is also genuine horror with characters like Polly Peachpit. Polly is the character on the cover. She’s reminiscent of some manga horror designs. Her long limbs are uncomfortable to look at, never mind the fact she sometimes has the body of a spider. There was a chance this series could have depicted her as any old monster, but Molnar really makes her hard to look at.
On top of this, she’s not only scary to look at, she’s just generally uncomfortable. The way she talks to Melba Li makes the reader shiver. The subjects she talks about, the way she needs affection, it’s more than just scary. This is a real horror comic. It’s been some time since DC/Vertigo released something so unashamedly horror and that’s a huge positive.
While serviceable, as far as character introductions go, this issue features one of the most cliché things. Each scene Melba Li goes through has a sense of déjà vu for the reader purely because it’s been done a hundred times. Fortunately, this series has its premise to help differentiate it from everything else, but it’s still quite cliché.
For some of the IMPs, their lettering is coloured different. For the most part I understand why this is the case, I even like it. But in one specific instance the colouring is difficult to read. The colour combination just doesn’t work. Maybe it’s my eyes but I struggled to pick up the words from the background. It’s possible this was Seeley’s intention but I doubt it.
Imaginary Fiends is a new series with a lot of promise. A stellar premise with interesting characters makes this a series worthy of picking up.