After reading “Tales from the Fringe” a while back, and not being terribly impressed by it, I was a bit apprehensive about reading “Beyond The Fringe“. This series, which has been available in digital form, was finally released in print this week. I actually held off on purchasing the series in digital form because, simply put, I’m old fashioned and I like my comics the old fashioned way. But now being in print, I decided to pick it up this week and give it a chance. Fortunately, this series far surpassed “Tales from the Fringe”.
The series starts off with “Peter and the Machine”. This was originally published as a 3-part story and was penned by Joshua Jackson in his writing debut. ”Peter and the Machine” takes place between seasons 3 and 4 – the time period when Peter is actually in the machine. In this story, Walter sends Peter and the machine back through time and Peter is responsible for placing the pieces of the machine at different markers. We learn that Peter and Walter have most likely done this an infinite number of times already and have yet to save both universes. Of course, Peter is determined to create a different outcome this time. I have to say, for someone who has never written before, I was pretty surprised at how adept Jackson is at it. If I had been unaware of the author, I would have thought that it was written by a successful and seasoned comic book writer. The story is not only very well written and interesting, but it also stays very true to his character and the Fringe mythos.
Jorge Jimenez illustrates “Peter and the Machine” and does a really fantastic job. if you’re not familiar with Jimenez, he has done the art for Jurassic Park, Transformers 3 and the New 52′s Red Lanterns and he has a really great eye for details. One of my major complaints with “Tales from the Fringe” was the fact that the characters bared no resemblance to their TV counterparts. This is definitely not the case in this series – everyone actually looks like who they’re supposed to look like! And that goes for the rest of the stories, drawn by various artists, as well.
The rest of the stories in “Beyond the Fringe” are for the most part, what-if type stories. What if Peter was a superhero? What if Astrid was a spy? What if Peter never died? I actually really enjoy these types of stories for a couple of different reasons. One is, simply, that they are just fun. But another reason is that as a serious Fringe fan, I tend to hone in on tiny details that strayed from from the television series. Then I would spend all day thinking about that tiny detail, wondering if that actually happened on the show or are they just taking liberties with the comic. Then it would bother me to the point where I’d have to spend 30 minutes online trying to figure it out. I know, I know… I’m crazy! But I can’t help it. When reading these types of stories, you know it is completely outside of the Fringe canon and you can just enjoy them without focusing on whether or not that happened in the show because you know from the start that it didn’t! My personal favorite of these stories is “What if the Fringe team were criminals”, in which we see the team embroiled in a high-tech art heist. Very Thomas Crown Affair.
Overall, I’d give “Beyond the Fringe” an 8/10. It is a fun, well-written, enjoyable read with great artwork to match. I feel as though it is a lighter read than the previous Fringe comics and most of the stories aren’t meant to add to the history or the stories we already know, with the exception of “Peter and the Machine”. And, honestly, I was so impressed with Joshua Jackson’s writing that I feel the book was worth the $15 just for his story alone. “Beyond the Fringe” is currently available in comic shops and is priced at $14.99.