The Fiction #3 opens with a melancholic moment in which Kassie is shown floating within an unknown dark space, speckled with a substance that reminds her of stars. Her monologue is reminiscent of when one looked into the sky as a kid, bewildered at how large the world felt with the multiple, barely visible sparkling lights. Kassie begins to diminish in size, reminded of a sky whose constellations merged memory and truth to try and tell us something; Curt Pires’ words poignantly capturing her state of mind. As Kassie has entered adulthood, she has realized her diminished role in the world around her and how small that makes her feel. With her childhood literally disappearing through her missing friend Tsang and separation of Max as shown in the last issue, growing up is something that Kassie hasn’t taken lightly.
Curt Pires’s script continues to utilize the themes established in the first issue, deepening their examination as the series progresses. The real and the surreal are none more evident than in this issue, particularly through a flashback sequence with Kassie in school. Her class discusses the origins of the word surreal, hearkening back to Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland. Kassie is snarky and confident with her response, exposing her existential understanding that there is no meaning within the universe and that meaning only exists through our own projections of it. This extends to Kassie’s separation with her childhood, where the ‘fiction’ reality ends up as a seminal factor to Kassie growing up. The meaning of this reality has been tarnished. Memory and truth of this adventurous period in her life remain in the past, although their effects continue to influence Kassie into her adolescents.
Alternatively, this issue gives us another perspective on the fiction as Tsang is revealed to be alive and well within this alternate reality. Tsang has now accepted the fiction as his sole reality, embodying a dark, evil entity that refuses to return to a life where he feels he no longer belongs. Through a few pages of exposition, Tsang reveals his desire to remain in the fiction stemmed from the disintegration of his family and the repeated attempts at contacting his father without a response. Tsang, in the fiction, accepts the offer of a talking rabbit and heads down into a metaphorical rabbit hole, descending and revealing the deep, dark secrets of this surreal world. An interesting parallel is presented between Kassie and Tsang here, where Kassie’s separation from the fiction forms a heightened understanding of the real world and Tsang’s ignorance of reality beckons him towards an accepting of an anger repressed from within; memory and truth come to a head.
David Rubin embraces the surreal path that this issue takes and plays a lot more with the morphing, jagged lines of the altered fiction reality. His stubble faced Tsang with his wavy black hair and red hoodie paints him as a self-appointed deity of this world, menacingly floating amongst his captive childhood friends. The tense sequences with Tsang, Kassie, Max, and Tyler are lively and vibrant as Rubin’s lines move the frames along as the present bounces back and forth with the past. He also has a very fun and effective use of sound effects that never seem overindulgent, as much as they appear often.
Michael Garland easily has his best-coloured issue so far even though his palette isn’t necessarily widespread. He effectively utilizes very stark reds and blacks alongside Tsang’s revealed past, capturing some rather gruesome images as he encounters an evil being within the walls of the fiction. Garland’s colours also help separate time within the flashbacks, allowing for a fluid transition within this non-linear narrative. His muted blues and greens add an organic feel to a few of Rubin’s images, especially as Tsang’s body morphs and twists.
Colin Bell also has his best issue so far working with a dense amount of script, pencil work and colouring to accelerate the flow of dialogue amongst the packed frames.
The Fiction #3 acts as the boiling point to this pressure cooker of a series, really making a statement as one of the best series that BOOM! Studios have released this year. The play on memory and truth, on understanding and ignorance, of good and evil, are themes that continue to be experimented with through Curt Spires’s imaginative script, David Rubin’s surreal and organic lines, Michael Garland’s atmospheric colours and Colin Bell’s quality lettering to top it all off. It will be exciting to see how it will all end, as much as it will be sad.