by Shaun Simon, Tyler Jenkins and Kelly Fitzpatrick
Neverboy has been a treat from the very start. Shaun Simon brought readers into this rather unique and curious story with a fantastic opening issue that caught most off guard. From there, the mind-bending tale of Neverboy has been surprisingly tragic as much as it has been exciting. After recognizing what needed to be done last time, there is somberness and a weight hanging over the lead character as the events of issue five unfold. Even still, the game changes a bit in this issue, and the creators bring their best efforts yet again.
Simon and Jenkins bring readers back into the story with a visit to where it first began. Though slightly different, it is a fantastic choice to reintroduce the hospital setting considering the changes that have occurred. Still, Jenkins uses a very similar layout of scattered images of the hospital room, bed, and items. Kelly Fitzpatrick’s coloring continues to balance on a line between realistic and imaginary, grounding the story when necessary, then transforming it moments later. Neverboy is finally aware of what it is he must do and in his acceptance, the mood of the issue is different. The illusion is fading in more ways than one, but his resolve to return things to how they are meant to be may not be entirely up to him. Julian Drag has a grip on society, through the real and the imagined, and he is not about to release it.
What has been even more impressive throughout this story is the ground that the creators have managed to cover. Drag and Neverboy are so similar in so many ways, but inverses in the position and path they are on. In a way, readers are getting to see a past of Neverboy that was not depicted, days of the individual distorting reality, twisting imagination and maintaining these delusions at the cost of others simply to prolong and achieve a selfish goal. But as one individual has begun to recognize these choices and their impact, the other is just beginning to head down that road. There is a poetic nature to such a construction, especially in considering that it was Neverboy, himself, that started Drag down it to begin with. The once and again famous artist has found himself at a plateau in his successes and dives further down the hole towards fame, ignorant to its price.
The inverse paths that the two characters walk through the series are well-crafted and evidence of the impressive ability of Simon. But, the strength of this fifth issue of Neverboy comes from a sequence between Neverboy and his created son, Ben. The tragedy of this man, who only wishes to have a family of his own, a purpose and a life, has been the unsuccessful pursuit of this dream. In putting himself above others to maintain the illusion, he has lost his wife. Here, Simon along with the fantastic art team, depict the final day and outing Neverboy will have with Ben. It is a touching scene that is filled with honest emotion. The man has stopped taking the drugs, and as the day continues, the magic of their existence begins to fade. While the overarching tale of Neverboy progresses in the background, this series of events could be their own issue. Simon’s dialogue is sparse through these events, but the writer has crafted an excellent sequence. Jenkins and Fitzpatrick bring their best work of the series here, and the end result is absolutely breathtaking. As the sequence resolves, readers are treated to a pair of images that are simply beautiful, while simultaneously brutal. As the issue continues from here, the story only grows heavier in its final moments.
Neverboy has managed to be an amazing breath of fresh air in comics. The story is fascinating at each level of creativity, and every issue has been impressive. This chapter certainly ends with a darkness hanging over it, but the central sequence of the issue will continue to resonate long after the last pages are turned.