May 17, 2016

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All-Ages or Small-Ages #7 (Figment Volume 1 by Jim Zub, Filipe Andrade and Jean-Francois Beaulieu)


See all of the past entries of All-Ages or Small-Ages here.

There are a wide array of all-ages comics out there from the classic Archie comics, through the  Sonic the Hedgehog and Disney, all the way to the original properties such as Lumberjanes. You might look at one of these books and think that, as an adult, it doesn’t have much to offer you. As someone who has discovered a deep fondness for titles such as this, I’ve been surprised by how rich and complex the stories can be. All-Ages or Small-Ages? is a feature that takes a look at the books that fall under this banner and attempts to analyse whether or not their assigned label is apt; is it a book that you can read along with your children?

Mirth, hope and enthusiasm are qualities that are universally enjoyable, no matter the source. Figment is a series that unquestionably has each of these in spades. It tells the story of how the mascot of Disneyland’s Epcot, who I was admittedly unfamiliar with prior to this series, came to be. Based in a quasi-Victorian England, under-appreciated inventor Blair creates a machine that takes its power from the user’s brainwaves. Unwittingly creating both the titular character and an extended universe, Blair is taken on an adventure that causes him to question his very place in the world.

The first aspect of that summary that might jump out at you as an older reader is the nature of the science experiment that sets you off on this journey. Delivering it all with a perfect blend of sincerity and heart, Zub unquestionably and instantly sells it to you. It’s stated as an outright fact with such gravitas and with such charming results that you immediately forget to care about the actual science behind it. As a whole, that sums up everything that makes this miniseries work so effectively. Yes, a lot of it can be a bit incredulous, but it’s entertaining enough that you don't care.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the beautifully inane ramblings from Figment, the purple dragon that you may already be so familiar with. Right from the gate, he babbles in his own special way about objects that he likes or things that he wants to do. While they may initially seem meaningless, when you pay attention to what he’s saying, you can actually pick out some surprisingly inspirational statements. Zub is a writer that I’ve been following for quite some time, so it’s amazing to see him construct all of these layers of speech that only continue to grow in significance as you deconstruct them.

For example, as Blair attempts to think their way free from a jail cell, Figment spouts an off-the-cuff remark that “the rules are whatever we want them to be”. While it explicitly motivates the protagonist into the next phase of their journey, it’s something that we could all do with hearing in a dire situation. Far too often, people limit themselves to the confines dictated to them by an external source, so receiving this piece of advice, from the epitomisation of imagination no less, loops back around to be the perfect example of a far more creative and satisfying way to live your life.


This fantastical and magical world is brought to life by the absolutely astounding work from the legendary, at least to me, Filipe Andrade. His art is regularly a controversial one for its refusal to adhere to the limitations of human anatomy. When you’re travelling through a world that exists at the whim of its creator, this is a quality that gels tremendously well. There’s a staggering amount of Blair and Figment falling with style in this volume, brought into three dimensions by Andrade warping the body in a very situationally appropriate way. Dynamism is a quality that Adrade never struggles with and that could not be more apparent in this series.

Nowhere are Andrade's design abilities more clear than when looking at the secondary characters that get roped in to the adventure, Chimera and Fye. The lumbering animal called Chimera has an endearing lollygagging tongue but, with human teeth, falls somewhere between cute and unsettling. However, its prominence at the forefront of enthusiasm sells you on how impossible the story would be without it. The magical fairy, Fye, is a fascinating addition to the already established mythos; he represents another side of imagination that we haven’t seen before. His race is usually able to create objects through the use of music, but he’s never been able to lock down that ability. Instead of being able to conform to the standards of his race, he’s taken down a path where he's forced to learn to appreciate his abilities for what they are; you simply need to look at them imaginatively in the right way.


The narrative itself takes you on an emotional journey that’s surprisingly fraught with peril. As the main cast discovers their true selves off in the land of imagination, there’s a plot unfolding back at home with a shockingly dark tone. An unwelcome force lead by a character known only as The Singularity has appeared to try to force as much so-called “order” into the world as possible; unfortunately for the humans, their order requires ruling with an iron fist. Watching this diametrically opposed story unfold in parallel to an inspirational journey of self discovery does wonders at heightening the power of each. There’s nothing like a new low to make the highs look even higher than they did before and, again, this book absolutely sells it.

If you’ve previously been turned off by the Disney Kingdoms imprint, you should honestly give it another chance. There’s a lot of talent, from both a narrative and artistic perspective, getting poured into these books and they honestly deserve a chance. If the aesthetic isn’t enough to sell you, although it absolutely should be, Zub manages to take a story that sounds ridiculous on the surface and creates a story that grips you from the very first page. With an ending that will make you either fist pump the air or sit there grinning beatifically, it’s all wrapped up with a magnificent bow that will leave you feeling inspired to maintain that sense of imagination that Disney has come to represent. There is no doubt in my mind that anyone, regardless of age, can read this story and wholeheartedly adore it.



Let me know if there's a comic that you think I should be checking out. I'm always on the look-out for some more hidden All-Ages gold. Contact me at mark@thegreengorcrow.com or head over to thegreengorcrow.com for a daily dose of comic reviews, interviews and more!