By: Jim Zub (Writer), Filipe Andrade (Artist), Jean-Francois Beaulieu (Color Artist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (Letterer), John Tyler Christopher (Cover Artist)

The Story:
A mind is a terrible thing to harness free energy, and will likely result in dragon.

The Review:
Notice the small, non-outlined white letters labeled “Disney” on the cover? It is quite rare for a large stakeholder such as Disney to allow its own logo to be smaller than, say, even the artist’s names on its product. For whatever reason, the producers of this comicbook have downplayed the behind-the-scenes origin of this book, which really is a fascinating story in itself. It’s part of the Walt Disney Company’s original property, Figment, a mascot for a dark ride in Disney’s EPCOT Center theme park, and one of the properties under development as a comicbook property (the other is Disney Kingdoms’ Seekers of the Weird.) But that’s a conversation for another time, perhaps. If we take the comic on its own, how does it hold up?

Pretty well, it turns out!

The art really helps set this comic above the average. The characters and setting are seamlessly intertwined, thanks to the soft but somewhat rough line work. This is important as the characters feel very “real” while remaining slightly caricatured, and that’s important too as it has to be a world where a small flying purple cartoon dragon can be integrated without feeling jarringly out of place. It is all perfectly embellished by the painterly colors. Some colors are softly gradated, while others are laid down in thicker hues. Light becomes very important, from the windows to reflective floors to the grungy mechanics to the contrast from the dreary flashbacks that lead into Figment’s bright burst of appearance.

The story itself is a bit standard, with the supporting characters a bit too stock to be taken seriously. The cliché boss gives a familiarly abset-minded scientist Blarion Mercurial a typically heavy-handed deadline when the Machine of Weird Science blows up, and of COURSE the latest attempt will be the one that “creates” Figment. It’s all pretty rushed and seems to rely on familiar tropes to move past all the set up to get to the story with more potential– when Mercurial and Figment get blowed up into a “mind portal” and thrown into next issue.

I mean, the appearance of small dragon from his childhood imagination would likely take up a whole sequence of a movie version, or even a whole issue in and of itself in today’s decompressed comic culture. Here, Mercurial pretty much accepts the strangeness in practically the next panel. We miss out on a lot of interaction between the two main players, accordingly, especially in a montage that covers seven whole days. Did they just hang out in the lab together for seven days straight? What exactly does Figment do besides carry some equipment around? He’s got less personality on display than Frosty the Snowman in a Christmas special. “Never mind,” seems to be the message. “Just take it as a given, and get ready for next issue.”

Unfortunately, what all this means is that neither Mercurial nor Figment are really developed very deeply. I was surprised how much focus was given to Mercurial with the title of the book given to a character who really doesn’t do much but appear happy, so I sympathize with the character by default, and only so much as I am familiar with his type. There’s no genuine conflict here that really wants to make me root for him, but I am interested to see how he deals with his new situation next issue.

Uhm, which apparently features a Luck Dragon, judging from the teaser? I’m pretty sure The NeverEnding Story is owned by Warner Bros. Studios.

The Bottom Line: While the comic falls short of genuine world-building by relying on stock situations and supporting characters, the main characters are appealing in their design and familiar set-up. The comic is beautiful to look at and balances “reality” with imagination as appropriate thematically to the book, but it feels a bit bland as if the creators really want next issue to be one where we’ll see the story they really want to tell.

The Grade: B

by Danny Wall

Two Other Tidbits:
— Bragging rights! The author of this review has been to every Disney theme park in the world. Just sayin’.
— The script seems to be sending shout outs to a decidedly 80s playlist: Weird Science, She Blinded Me With Science, and even What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy.) Did I miss any more?