If you haven’t read 2010′s comic series, “Tales from the Fringe“, now is the perfect chance for you to catch up. Many comic shops will be restocked on the trade publication on August 1st, as it is being re-offered in preparation for next month’s release of “Beyond the Fringe” .
“Tales from the Fringe” is a 6-part series that focuses largely on the characters of the Fringe Division before the time period in which the TV show takes place. Each part is broken down to 2 stories – one about a Fringe character and one is a tale that would be something in the realm of what the team would investigate. In each story you actually get to see a small snippet of one character’s past – with the exception of Walter, which I have to say, I find disappointing. However, I get it – Walter is easily the most fleshed out character on the show, so I think as much as the fans enjoy him, the writers took this opportunity to show us more of the other character’s pasts.
The first story, “Tomorrow”, is, in my opinion, the best of the bunch. It gives us a look at Peter’s life as a con artist in Iraq and shows him in a troublesome situation in which he is forced to choose between helping someone else or helping himself. This is really the only story in the book where we see one of the characters wrestling with their own choices and ethics. I also enjoy this story because it brought me back to season 1, where we got to see Peter in Iraq as a somewhat morally ambiguous character. I always find it strange when comics that are based on TV shows ignore the history that has already been set for them rather than incorporate it, so I found it refreshing that the authors, Doble and Gaines, chose to build on what we already know about Peter. The rest of the stories aren’t quite so deep. We get to see an impediment along the way to Olivia’s position of Special Prosecutor in the Marine Corps, Broyles’ family problems, Astrid’s bizarre induction into the FBI and a small piece of Nina’s history involving her robotic arm. We even get a story about Gene the cow. The stories are all quite short and don’t go into much depth, so when I say we get a snippet, it really is just that.
The secondary stories, or fringe tales, albeit amusing, are reminiscent of the stories I read when I was a kid by the likes of Christopher Pike or R.L Stine. As I read them, I couldn’t help but think I should dim the lights and hold a flashlight to my face. One of the stories is a creepy tale of fate and what control we have over it. Another one of the stories has a very similar feel to the film The Ring or Pike’s “Chain Letter”. These stories felt more like ghost stories than the science-backed plots we are used to on Fringe. However, that being said, the stories are entertaining and unique. They certainly didn’t wow me, but they were enjoyable. And if I ever have to host a slumber party for a group of pre-teens, I can pull out this book and I’m pretty sure I’ll be the hit of the party.
As far as the artwork goes, each story is done by a different artist and has a completely different look. I actually enjoy all of the styles from Fiona Staples’ literal style to the more freestyle look of David Hahn. My only complaint is that is the comic is based on the television series and yet none of the characters resemble their TV counterparts! Some of the artist’s renditions are more recognizable than others, such as Astrid and Broyles, but Nina, Olivia and Peter would be impossible to identify if you were just flipping though the book. There are also a few fun easter eggs hidden in the pages, such as J.J Abrams’ favorite fictional drink, the Slusho. You may also spot an Observer or two if you look closely.
Overall, I’d give “Tales from the Fringe” a 6/10. It really adds very little value to the Fringe canon but it’s a fun, enjoyable read. It’s not near on the level of complexity as the show, but at about 10 pages per story, that’s to be expected. And as we all know, Fringe merchandise is pretty scarce, so at $15, I think it’s a nice addition to add to any Fringe fan’s collection. Just don’t expect to be blown away by it or you’ll end up disappointed.
Did you purchase “Tales from the Fringe” when it was originally published, and if not, do you plan on purchasing it now as a precursor to next month’s “Beyond the Fringe”?
- “Tales From The Fringe” @ MyComicShop
- “Tales From The Fringe” TPB @ MyComicShop
- “Tales From The Fringe” SC @ Amazon