Vertigo Review – Imaginary Fiends #1: Kids and Cruelty

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Imaginary Friends #1 2017
Imaginary Friends #1 cover, image via DC Comics

Imaginary Fiends #1 – Tim Seeley, Writer; Stephen Molnar, Artist; Quinton Winter, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Quiet, Intense Horror

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!!

Ray: Horror is one of the trickiest genres to write because there have been so many greats in so many subgenres. And a good number of them have been written by Tim Seeley himself. So for the newest Vertigo launch – a rare thing these days, at least until summer of next year – Seeley digs into current events and gives us a surreal nightmare populated by “imaginary friends”, and heavily inspired by the events in Wisconsin where two preteen girls stabbed a friend in the supposed service of the Slender Man.

The issue begins with teenage pothead Cameron Calle sneaking away from his little sister to smoke with his friends, only for her to stagger out of the woods, stabbed repeatedly and mumbling the words “Polly Peachpit”. Six years later, her stabber Melba Li is an abused inmate at a juvenile facility, staring down the barrel of being transferred to adult prison. Her victim apparently survived, but it hasn’t bought her any leniency.

Then she gets a visit from a government agent who wants her help. It seems she’s one of a select group who can see the title characters, other-dimensional imps that serve as companions to kids and usually fade away when the child grows up – except those that are powerful enough to survive, and start affecting the rest of the world. And that’s where we learn exactly what Polly Peachpit is – and what she is is one of the most disturbing horror creations of recent years. And the great thing? She’s not even apparently the villain of this story. Seeley’s previous Vertigo outing, Effigy, wasn’t my cup of tea due to its over-the-top violence and confusing plot, but this one sets up an immediately engaging main character, a surreal and horrifying central scare, and a compelling villain. This feels like it’s going to be a tight horror miniseries that will deliver serious scares.

Imaginary Friends #1
Being able to see Imps is pretty much a curse. Image via Vertiga

Corrina: Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends was one of my twins’ favorite Cartoon Network shows and one that had a serious basis, in that all the imaginary friends tended to represent the lost childhood of their human companions. While Ray thought of real-life events that might have inspired this series, I had Foster‘s at the back of my head as I was reading. If the Imps represent companions bleeding into our world due to the needs of their child and fed by them, what does it say about their hosts?

And that’s part of the creepy but quiet horror of this book. Can Melba Li be trusted? Is she the one being used by Polly Peachpit or is she using Polly Peachpit? Where does the evil reside? And that question comes in again in the teaser at the end, where someone who was traumatized by Melba/Polly is determined on revenge–with their own Imp to help.

The one concern I have is how the series will deal with mental illness. Many horror stories waive away the mentally ill as not ill at all, just in the throes of a supernatural force and that does a disservice to those dealing with mental illness in real life. But, so far, the Imps aren’t used as an “explanation” for mental illness.

This series has some gore but it’s more about the darkness inside people rather than the ugliness outside.

To read more of our DC Comics review, go to our index.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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