By Tim Seeley, Stephen Molnar, Quinton Winter, and Carlos M. Mangual
Creating a new comic series can lead to some interesting challenges. In a horror series, it could be anything from establishing the supernatural elements in a world to something as basic as character development. They all lead to the same goal: reader investment. Imaginary Fiends #2 is on the lighter side when it comes to progressing the main plot, but it does succeed in taking a deeper look into its main characters as well as laying down some ground rules.
For a series that’s based on the relationships between humans and parasitic interdimensional beings (called I.M.P.s), it takes the time to have relatable moments. For instance, Melba Li goes to a bar in this issue. Because what else would an 18 year-old with a modified ID do? Tim Seeley writes Melba as a capable character, but ultimately what makes her great is that she’s a very real teenager. Agent Virgil Crockett gets a little less love, doing his best Dale Cooper impression in his room. But a peek behind the curtain provided in a single page does raise some questions about his motivations and history with a certain I.M.P. Aside from that, little is really accomplished in terms of the larger investigation, but the smaller moments are entertaining enough to keep interest.
The I.M.P. characters are also tons of fun to read. The childish names of Polly Peachpit and Charlie Chokecherry will never lose their ironic charm when put against their owners. The thought of Keylime Frogman kidnapping a child and keeping him captive underwater brings a nice balance of humor and horror. The connection between an I.M.P. and its host is a dynamic that is also delightfully complicated. They may feed off human fear, but at the same time they provide their hosts advantages and even take care of them in some instances. How these relationships sway from leaning more towards parasitic to symbiotic and back adds an intriguing wrinkle to the core conflict for both the protagonist and antagonist.
Artist Stephen Molnar brings these I.M.P.s to life to great effect. The spider-like Polly Peachpit going from expressing playful intentions to a terrifying teeth-filled snarl fits in well with the theme of twisted innocent ideas. Molnar also does a great job portraying an I.M.P. in a grounded style and simplifying that design to create a child’s drawing. Colorist Quinton Winter enhances this moment with scribbled, uneven colors to match up with this sentiment. Other touches, like the bleed-through leading into Virgil’s flashback are welcome in establishing an unsettling mood. Carlos M. Mangual’s lettering also provides individual I.M.P.s distinctions in how they speak, giving each of them some unique qualities outside of appearance.
Horror media sometimes forget to give their characters enough time to come into their own and mean something before going up against the monster. Fortunately, Imaginary Fiends #2 does not make this mistake. It might be a little on the slower side for those who want quick action, but the groundwork will only help out when it kicks into a higher gear. In the confines of this issue, there is some engaging character development here though that makes this a strong start.