[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Stephen Molnar, Quinton Winter
Melba Li continues to get pulled in multiple directions, as both Agent Crockett and Polly Peachpit need her. Crockett needs her to help with the disappearing children case, whereas Peachpit simply needs her to survive. Fortunately Melba Li needs Polly Peachpit’s help in order to help Agent Crockett. So while things in Melba Li’s life get more and more confusing, she does manage to advance with the case and even comes close to some new I.M.P.s.
Stephen Molnar’s artwork stands out in this issue. It’s clear that he has a lot of skill, and thanks to some ‘trippy’ scenes with Agent Crockett, readers get to experience Molnar at his best. What’s so good about his artwork is the variety. For the most part the artwork is fairly generic. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean everything is very normal. His style isn’t hyper realistic nor overly cartoonish, it’s very clean. But when the tension amps up that’s when things get surreal. Characters become emphasized, the clean style gets messy. In a sense, the issue gets scary. Through the art Molnar can convey the horror the book encapsulates. While readers may feel safe on one page, by the next they’re terrified by the erratic linework and lettering (from Carlos M. Mangual).
Another strength of the issue is the pacing. Seeley open the story with a third person narration giving readers some backstory of Polly Peachpit and the series’ antagonist Charlie Chokecherry. The third person narration really lends itself well to the childhood innocence of fairy tales and imaginary friends. Seeley’s ability to blend this pivotal exposition with style shows how good of a writer he is. Exposition should never be obvious, and here it’s not. Not until the story focuses on Melba Li does the issue return to the standard format. Had the whole issue been a third person fairy tale it would drag, the same could be said had the issue been more traditionally contemporary and lacked the narrator at all.
This may be an ongoing positive of the series but the horror style is fantastic. It’s not a gore-fest, nor does it rely on edgy violence to scare readers. Seeley tells his story entirely through pacing and with Molnar’s artwork, the reader is effectively kept on the edge of their seat.
Seriously this is a great issue and there’s very little to fault. If there could be any complaint it would be that Molnar isn’t given enough to play with. Barring the opening and close of the issue, this is primarily panels of Melba Li and Agent Crockett talking with one another. It’s entertaining but when you know how much Molnar can do, it’s a little disappointing to have to wait for splash for the really good stuff.
Imaginary Fiends is still one of the best books DC/ Vertigo puts out each month. Seeley and Molnar are a combination to look out for and one I hope work together more often. With twists occurring regularly there’s no way to tell what will happen next other than to pick up the next issue as soon as it’s released.