Current Reviews


Fiction Clemens #3

Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2008
By: Chris Murman

Josh Wagner
Ape Entertainment
I love tall tales; they make me miss my grandpa. He was always great at telling me stories such as the tale of Fiction Clemens. That’s what makes The Princess Bride such a great movie, we all can identify with an elderly man spinning a fantastic yarn for a youngster. At any rate, what readers got from all three issues of this series was a dense story that was illustrated beautifully with an ending that made this reviewer want to start all over from the beginning.

We last saw our two travelers in yet another pickle. Dune Trixie had a knife stuck in her craw, while Fic’ was passed out high on cactus juice with a bounty hunter standing over them. Quite unceremoniously, they work their way out of that jam and head into the city to face all of their pursuers at once. We find out more about the famed Clockmaker, see a few new faces along the way and finally send the country couple riding off in the sunset so to speak.

What really struck me about the story is something Josh Wagner and I would have in common. My wife chides me constantly about inserting too many details into the stories I tell others. Sure we don’t need to know everything that happens, but don’t the details sure make the story better? Readers would have gotten just as much from this issue without the three strangers waiting to siege the city, the mention of Clemens’ father, or even the Clockmaker himself. Instead, the onion was just that bigger to open as we headed towards the final showdown between Fic’, Trixie and the Kitchens family. Tip of the cap to Wagner for letting details not be the devil to his tale.

The real kicker for me was the resolution to the relationship between Fic’ and the younger Kitchens. I could see a lot of that aspect of the story coming a mile away, especially after the opening of issue #2, but after all Kitchens has done to Clemens to see those actions returned with love was very refreshing. Wagner managed to craft a truly admirable character in every way in Fic’. Strangely enough, instead of rekindling their friendship, Tiberius was kicked out of the story. Cliché as it would have sounded, I’m surprised the road wasn’t taken.

In the end, that’s the real kicker for this story. There were many opportunities for this creative team to take the more traveled road of cliché comics. Nobody would have begrudged it if more action had been added in the final issue. I wouldn’t have cried too much if the female bounty hunter had been drawn sexier with cleavage and bare midriff. Certainly, if stronger language had been added to the dialogue to give it the edgy feel that many independent comics have today would have probably sold some more copies (with the scantily clad women I just mentioned). The thing is, this story was good enough already without those things. No heroic posturing, crappy one-liners, and I was not served a side of B.S. ending for my trouble.

Many feel that kind of story telling is meant for kids, not for readers who have traded in their Underoos. I would use this tale as a reason to disagree. This was not an all-ages read by any means, yet the story didn’t rely on gimmicks to get the wheels greased. Having spoken to Wagner about his story earlier this year, it’s easy to be happy for the success I hope comes from this series and more is to come.

A likeable team produced a likeable series, end of story.

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