Written By: Tim Seeley
Artist: Stephen Molnar
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Remember when having an imaginary friend provided companionship? An escape from wrong doing as a child? Then, one day you grew up and came to terms that your imaginary friend was just that, imaginary? Well, imagine a world where imaginary friends are really harmless inter-dimensional creatures that feed off your love and attention. Then, try imaging that some of them can be so much more than harmless…..
Imaginary Fiends starts off in the past, the night Brinke, a 12 year old girl, had been murdered by her best friend. The narrative focuses on her brother, Cameron, as he tries to fit in with an older crowd of kids. He takes a hit off another kid’s joint in an attempt to impress them and more specifically a certain girl. Its not long before the gang is interrupted by Brinke calling for Cameron as she comes stumbling out of the woods and covered in blood. As Cameron catches her, she utters her final words, “Polly Peachpit” and dies.
Next, we’re introduced to Melba Li, the protagonist of Imaginary Fiends, as we flash forward six years to the present day. She’s been incarcerated in juvenile detention for the murder of Brinke, whom the world believes she stabbed 12 times.
In the world of Imaginary Fiends, our Imaginary friends are inter-dimensional parasites, or so Crockett calls them, that can’t interact with the material world. They feed off the admiration and loyalty of the impressionable minds of the young or mentally ill while taking on the narratives provided for them (like a cowboy sea-monster on a tricycle) and in return providing constant companionship to their hosts. He also believes that Melba is an advanced host to these creatures. Most are harmless and die off as a host grows up, moves on, and forgets about it. Others, like Polly Peachpit, gain an appetite for more.
Vigil’s job within the division known only as the IMP, is to investigate these creatures and assess the dangers of them.
The largest problem with the first issue is that it’s just that: a first issue. It spends nearly all of it’s time setting up the future conflicts but doesn’t really build up any momentum for them. We don’t see much of Li doing whatever work she’s doing with Polly and Crockett, except for the fact that she has a new, cleaner look, because a free Li showers and stuff like that. However, despite being so slow, it does a good job at setting it all up. We want to see what Li is doing with Crockett and IMP; we want to see what Polly is capable of and what the other dangerous monsters will look like and how much influence they’ll have over their hosts. Its just a matter of whether or not the story can pull it all together for the next five issues.
The art is wonderful with detailed facial expressions, and Polly’s reveal is exceptional as she appears in her terrifying spider form. There is a moment however, where Polly is vomiting on the floor as Melba threatens her. Its just an odd scene because its never really mentioned or touched upon. Was it the cake that made Polly vomit or the danger Melba put her in? Maybe it was how she shed her spider form and moved into a more human-like form? We don’t know. It just stood out to me as being the weirdest moment of the comic and just serves to take away from Polly’s intimidating nature.
Another downside to the issue is that we don’t see much of Polly or ANY of these creatures outside of Marshall Loch (cowboy sea-monster on a tricycle) and whatever Cameron summons at the end. You’d think Melba would have had more exposure to other creatures confined in juvenile detention given that these beings latch themselves onto impressionable young kids.
All in all though, Imaginary Fiends is an interesting concept that I am very much entertained by. Things we thought we dreamt up in our minds to be our friends really turn out to be these creatures that feed off of us. As a kid, I remember watching Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, a show where kids dropped off their imaginary friends as they grew up so that some other child in need of companionship could come along and adopt them to a loving home. Now I’m an adult reading a comic about parasites that invade the minds of the young in order to sustain themselves, with the slight chance that they’ll become real monsters and give them that nudge they need into doing something they can never come back from.