Fringe has been one of my absolute favorite shows for years now, and it recently ended. While the ending was everything I would have hoped for, I wanted more. Which is why I picked up this comic when I found it at the library last week. This particular paperback is a collection of Wildstorm’s six-issue miniseries from 2008, simply entitled Fringe Vol. I (***).
Unfortunately, if you aren’t into the show, you won’t find much to appeal to you here. The characters here really rely on your knowledge of the show for their life. The flip side of this is that longtime fans of the TV show will find much that is familiar here.
The first half of the book details the early relationship between Walter Bishop, portrayed brilliantly in the show by John Noble, and William Bell, played on the screen by Leonard Nimoy. In the seventies they share a lab at Harvard and together are able to bend the very laws of the universe out of shape before Bishop is committed and Bell goes on to found the megacorporation Massive Dynamic. Their adventures here are very fun, and occasionally the writers hit their stride and you can hear John Noble deliver the lines on the page. Other times, it falls flat. Unfortunately, I think this was published before we had actually met Bell in the show (He was missing for a long time) and thus knew he was Leonard Nimoy–the Bell in the book doesn’t really look a thing like him.
The second half of the book details several “Fringe events” occuring within the world of Fringe. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see how things turn out either here or on the show–a number of them are just kind of left unresolved, as if they were setting up for an episode of the show that just never happened. The exception is the story Strangers On A Train–that one was really good. There’s a segment involving mind-swapping, a man trying to reclaim his stolen briefcase with unexpected results, a child who kills whatever he touches, an astronaut on an experimental drug, and a reporter who gets more than she bargained for when she begins investigating Massive Dynamic….
Tom Mandrake’s art throughout the book is consistant, if lackluster. Its not bad, its just not particularly outstanding. The writing, on the other hand, is spotty–either its good or its bad. This inconsistancy is understandable, given the fact that its written by a committee. The Bell And Bishop segment is apparently broken up into chapters with different production teams (these breaks are only apparent on the credits page–the chapter breaks aren’t indicated in the book itself). Writers include Zack Whedon on one segment, Julia Cho, Mike Johnson, Alex Katsnelson, Danielle DiSpaltro, Justin Doble, Matthew Pitts, and Kim Cavyan.
Content-wise, I’m going to say PG-13. Some mild language, a couple characters strip to their underwear to enter a sensory-deprivation tank (fans of the show will understand), and there’s a little violence–not much, but a bit bloody when it does occur. There’s a shot of Hitler’s severed head as he is eaten by a tyrannosaur…..