Finding Nemo: Reef Rescue #2 sees Nemo, Marlin, and Dory continue their quest to investigate the mysterious death of their local coral reef. As with the first issue, writer Marie Croall captures the personalities of the book’s characters perfectly. This second chapter sees some of the most enjoyable characters from the original Finding Nemo movie appear as Nemo and his crew seek out the group of fish that he befriended in the dentist’s fish tank, in order to get a second opinion on what might be responsible for the death of the coral. All are handled very faithfully by the writer.
It’s interesting to see this series explore some character relationships that couldn’t be touched upon in the movie, too, since many of Finding Nemo’s characters never actually met during the course of that story. Gil is as enigmatic and over dramatic as ever, even when dealing with the older, more experienced Marlin (you can almost hear Willem Dafoe’s voice reading his lines), and there’s an amusing exchange between the equally air-headed Deb and Dory. I wonder if we’ll see Bruce and the other sharks from the movie show up in future issues. Given Marlin’s dialogue on the final page of the issue, I suspect that we might.
Visually, the book is also a success, closely emulating the look and feel of the movies with highly faithful character designs and an authentic marine color palette. The action sequences are exciting, with the scene in which Marlin has to escape from a giant starfish being pitched perfectly at the book’s audience--it’s just scary enough that kids might be excited by it, without it being so terrifying that they’ll be afraid to read on. There are also a couple of neat moments of visual innovation, such as the way in which the panel that depicts the dentist’s fish tank from the movie is re-contextualized by the thought balloon bubbles that come from the turtle’s head in the subsequent panel.
The only slight flaw comes with the book’s plot. I’m a little disappointed that the root of the problem involving the dying coral is explained in such a straightforward manner, as I was rather hoping that Croall was planning to have a strong eco-friendly message underpin her story. Still, the explanation that’s provided here is adequate and sets up a simple conflict that younger readers will have no trouble understanding.
All in all, this is a very well-crafted book, and one that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to parents of young children who might be looking for a suitable comic to share with them.
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