Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review - Fiction Squad #1

"Every nursery rhyme is a crime scene."

Left to their own devices, characters in nursery rhymes, fairy tales and fables get into all manner of trouble. Sure, they usually work their way out of it by the end of the story, but getting to that point can prove to be rather trying. It is sort of the point though, as learning the valuable lesson along the way is important. Would those lessons still be learned if there were authority figures on hand to answer the tough questions? BOOM! Studios is aiming to find out in Fiction Squad #1, written by Paul Jenkins, illustrated by Ramon Bachs, colored by Leonardo Paciarotti and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Fablewood is a pretty dangerous place, but no area is more dangerous than the City of Rimes, deep in the heart of the Children’s Realm. After transferring in from the realm of Mystery, a failed detective from an unfinished prose novel, Frankie Mack, is about to uncover a conspiracy that could unmake storytelling itself. After Humpty Dumpty is pushed to crack and Jack (of Jack and Jill) goes AWOL, Frankie and his partner, Simple Simon, are put on the case. And that case looks like it may have something to do with a burgeoning war between the Queens and Witches.

Nursery rhymes and fairy tales are certainly familiar to just about everyone in the world; especially those which have lasted generations. Jenkins draws upon that recognition in Fiction Squad #1, deftly weaving multiple fairy tales together into one world where they all coexist. Frankie has all the qualities you'd expect from a leading detective, in that he's hardened and willing to ask the tough questions. Jenkins uses those traits to the advantage of the story, giving the reader the chance to tour the City of Rimes through Frankie's willingness to venture into all corners of the city in the name of justice. And the characters themselves are very enjoyable, successfully showcasing all the characteristics that make them recognizable to children all over the world.

Bringing together seemingly disparate worlds visually is never an easy task, but Bachs handles it very well. His characters are very expressive, even though not all of them are human. For instance, Humpty Dumpty has the look of an arrogant egg with no fear of falling from heights, despite his fragile make-up. Alice and her tea party have the look of a group of ne'er-do-wells who aren't afraid to get into trouble. Bachs brings all these characters together and makes them feel as if they really all do inhabit the same shared space. That sense of unity is further bolstered by Paciarotti's vibrant colors, which despite appearing somewhat muted by a darker tone still manage offer great contrasts between the varying areas of Rimes.

Fiction Squad #1 has a lot of entertaining aspects to it. At its heart, the book is a whodunnit, hard-boiled detective story. From a broader perspective, it manages to blend a lot of familiar characters into an unfamiliar world and makes that world seem inviting, even if it does seem more evil than good. Jenkins is clearly having fun writing Fiction Squad #1 and really does well in bringing in more and more fable tale lore to make the plot work in a sensible way. Bachs' illustrations really add life to Rimes, giving readers a wide assortment of characters who are good, evil or somewhere in between. Fiction Squad #1 is very unconventional, but it embraces that fact and has a blast with it for an enjoyable read.

Fiction Squad #1 is in stores now with interiors below.


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