When Disney purchased Marvel in 2009, comic enthusiasts understood the Mouse wished to obtain established properties that had a built-in young male fanbase. We now have dozens of movies, games and multimedia projects featuring those fictional worlds’ characters, but we have seen little of the inverse: comic stories using existing Disney characters. Considering how willing Disney has been in creating whole movie franchises out of rides from their theme parks, it’s shocking we haven’t seen more in the way narrative exploration of their characters in the pages of Marvel Comics. This collection of Figment issues from 2014-2015 demonstrates how enjoyable a comic adaptation of a stock character can be when put in the right creative hands and the leeway to develop the character’s lore.
This trade collects two five-issue arcs from writer Jim Zub, with art from Filipe Andrade and Ramón Bachs, featuring a purple dragon I had no knowledge of prior to picking up this book. Apparently, Figment is one of the more beloved Disney characters, and is featured in the Epcot ride “Journey into Imagination.” I’ve never stepped foot in the Florida park, so logically I missed developing any nostalgia for the property and went into reading this book clear-headed. I found that not only did I enjoy it, it was surprisingly engaging and thoughtful. Additionally, I read the book with my daughters who also appreciated its delightful and animated art and whimsical storytelling.
Story wise, it’s fun little romp appropriate for young adults and fans of steampunk. Figment, the titular hero, is spawned from the mind of a brilliant inventor named the Dreamfinder. A villain on Earth named Singular is constructing an army with nefarious indentations here on earth, pushing our heroes out of the Realms of Imagination and in opposition to the villain’s designs.
Zub does a fine job giving these characters a mammoth world to interact with; it almost appears he’s laid the groundwork necessary to throw this character into greater notoriety in a Disney film or animated series. What could have been a pointless cash grab, sucking dollars out of millennials with fond memories of the experience in Epcot, is actually a fully realized world with engaging characters thanks to Zub’s craftsmanship. Without a doubt, the art from Andrade and Bachs is the real centerpiece of these stories. Much like Skottie Young’s Oz books published by Marvel, these are comics made with young people in mind, but not made exclusively for them. Care and attention are given to the lush visuals, with enough startling imagery to make them seem combustible if pulled from an elementary school’s library shelves.
This trade also sets the bar for what we should expect from a trade paperback collection. While published in a smaller digest style, the pages and text are still clear and give the detail embedded in the workspace to shine. It also includes dozens of sketches and supplemental material, which in my opinion should be the norm in any collection of this sort. The fact that the extra mile was taken to provide these in this trade demonstrates how serious the fanbase for this character is.
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