Fringe: The Prequel Miniseries Trade (Collects issues 1-6)

This is a Wildstorm mini-series that came out slightly staggered thanks to a commendable ambition to have it fit in with the show’s mythology. Some sources claim it’s  written by Zack Wheldon, Mike Johnson, Alex Katsnelson, Matthew Pitts, Danielle DiSpaltro and Kim Cavyan.

It is a pleasant and quirky entry into the Fringeverse. Spoilers may lurk at the edges of this review.

It is also a beast of two parts. The prequal element is  Bell & Bishop :The Young Ones featuring their meeting and subsequent co-operation. This involves them getting into scrapes of a surprisingly pulpy nature – so much so one expects to see Atomic Robo, Hellboy or Dr Magnus have a cameo.  However, this is Fringe and true to the show an element of unreliable narration is introduced into the story so one can enjoy the ride take elements that one likes but retain suspecion of those that seem a little out there. The unreliable narration also appears to tackle any inconsistencies between show and comic events.

Regarding the characterisation Old Water is perfect – younger Walter seemed so much more hard and cynical – when I first read this I thought that should have been more Bell’s roll.  Having seen a younger harder Bishop in ‘Peter’ however I think the characterisation was spot on.

The majority of the art by Tom Mandrake reminded me of a 1980s hardback TV annual – functional, good story telling but a little unpolished – I wonder if that’s deliberate?  The art for Bell also didn’t show any Nimoy influence I suspect that’s down to him not having been cast when the concept work was done for the series.

The second part of the story is a series of ‘Twlight Fringes’, No? How about ‘Outer Fringes’ or ‘Fringes Future Shocks’ or ”Tales of the Unexpected Fringes’?  Brief and snappy stories some of which worked well (the briefcase one as a story and the Astronaut one as a part of Fringe) and others no so great. In the weaker story ‘The Prisoner’ the art Simon Coley was a bit cleaner and more standard US comic work.

So this is a stand-up part of the Fringeverse and I’d recommend it. It’s interesting that it does so with only Walter of the regulars in it. The prequal was a brave and effective route to go.  4/5 and no dry slaps.

This review is brought to you by Sky denying one your weekly TV helping and the Liverpool Library Service.

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