[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Stephen Molnar, Quiton Winter
In one of the darkest issues yet, both Melba Li and Agent Crockett find themselves close to death. Cameron, Brinke’s brother, has Melba tied up and at his will. Polly Peachpit isn’t there to protect her as she’s lying in a pool of blood following her climatic fight with Charlie Chokecherry last issue. Can she survive the madness of Cameron? Meanwhile Agent Crockett has his own adventure as he goes one on one with Fraidy Cat in a hospital.
This issue boasts a couple of fantastic memorable moments. Without delving too far into spoilers, one is memorable for the sheer horror and discomfort it causes while the other is a novel way of using a fight scene.
The horrific memorable moment borders on becoming ‘edgy’ but still manages to be shocking. Melba Li discovers something that readers hoped she wouldn’t. It’s not often these days that a scene in a comic book can make readers truly sit back in disgust but Imaginary Fiends manages it. With this issue Tim Seeley is letting readers know what kind of story he’s writing. To an extent it’s amusing to consider that this serious comic book about child abduction and murder also features an imaginary snake that wears a cowboy hat. But that’s what makes Seeley’s writing so great, he’s one of few writers that can balance certain tones so that the scary scenes frighten and the comedic scenes amuse without ever losing the reader along the way.
The fight scene on the other hand sees Agent Crockett going toe to toe with Fraidy Cat, what makes this scene special? Crockett can’t see I.M.P.s so he has to use his surroundings to guide him. His surroundings? A hospital nursery. Children can see I.M.P.s which forces Crockett to make note of which babies cry louder, letting him know where the Fraidy Cat is. Seeley paces the fight well to let readers figure out themselves that Crockett is using the babies screams to survey the area. It’s not subtle but the issue doesn’t beat the reader over the head with what’s happening. Mature scenes like this make Imaginary Fiends a joy to read.
The scenes with Cameron and Melba feel bloated. They’re meant to build tension until the horrific reveal but it doesn’t quite work. Cameron’s mental stability seems to vary wildly throughout their exchange which could be used to highlight how broken he is, but it just comes across disjointed. Especially considering Melba never really reacts to his actions. She just responds fairly blankly.
Additionally the signature narration appears during the Crockett fight scene and detracts from the moment. While the exposition is helpful, the scene itself would flow better if it were silent. This would make the babies cries more impactful and ultimately help show Crockett’s desperation.
As always the positives outweigh the negatives making Imaginary Fiends #5 well worth the read. As the series progresses it continues to get darker month by month. How much darker can the series get while maintaining its imaginary friend theme? We can only wait and see.