Childhood sweethearts Kassie and Max, have decided to re-enter The Fiction (the term to describe the fantasy world they escaped to in their youth, along with their two missing friends). Initially, it served as an escape to what appears to have been an especially traumatic childhood. Until recent events, they’d practically forgotten it had existed. Now that a second friend has disappeared into The Fiction, Max and Kassie must return to that world to finally understand what really happened all those years ago. Upon their arrival though, it seems their time in the real world has taken a toll on their fantasy one. Decades later, their once gleaming utopia has been replaced by a poisoned landscape.
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Appropriately for a four-issue miniseries, the second issue acts as a line of demarcation for the story. It is the crucial shift that takes place when children are forced to become adults far too early. During the days following Tsang’s disappearance we witness the line in the sand being crossed. Even the shape of their eyes change from childlike innocence to adult awareness. This is where the fantasy comes crashing down and the children are forced to deal with the consequences of what happened with Tsang. In essence, they have to get their stories straight (no pun intended). While Chapter 1 of The Fiction was titled The Story of Everything, Chapter Two is titled, Memoria. Memoria, the Latin word for memory, refers to the practices of ancient orators who were forced to deliver monologues without the aid of notes. It was not enough to recite the words. A person’s memoria had to withstand the scrutiny of inquisition.
While the first chapter was a retelling of the events that preceded Tsang’s disappearance, the second is a hazy and manipulated retelling of events for the benefit of adults, especially authority figures. This fear of authoritative figures continues to be a focal point of The Fiction. Many of us can relate to this sense of intimidation. Any adult, especially a police officer, is an authority figure that must be respected and feared. At such a young age, they are more figureheads than individuals. For the three children who must lie to a police officer about Tsang’s disappearance this is especially true. In several scenes each child is interrogated by the police. We are, however, never privy to a shot of his face. He is merely a torso with a badge.
These shifting perspectives of childlike eyes versus adult awareness takes place throughout the issue. What we see and how we see it is a very important feature of The Fiction. Artist David Rubin makes interesting choices in alternating between flashback sequences and The Fiction’s altered landscape. Rather than hazy images of yesteryear, Rubin delineates the past in the form of polaroids. In a sense, it suggests that memories are merely still images in the depths of our mind. As time passes the photos, like their memories, began to fade and take on colors we never expected. Photos are not the only thing that fades for our characters. Readers are given a glimpse at the remnants of the four as children. They are not merely memories though, ghosts would be a more accurate term. But they, like those photographic memories, are quickly fading.
The Fiction #2 posits the question: “What is reality? Is it a hyper-encoded hologram…a consensual hallucination?”
In other words, our reality is either an external creation or an accepted delusion. Whichever scenario we choose to accept, the result is still the same. The question is how did we get here?
In our epilogue we see a bit more of that mystery surrounding the parents. We discover that they too were visitors to The Fiction. Perhaps the children never had a choice in what their reality was.
Perhaps…that choice was made for them.
It will be fascinating to see how it plays out in issue #3.
Nicholas Bennett is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TheTVBuddy