Rating: 3/5 – An Imaginary Friend’s Struggles to Stay Alive.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
Writer Shaun Simon is best known in the world of comics for his work on The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys written along with creator Gerard Way. With Neverboy, Simon is creating a work that is his own singular vision. Neverboy takes the concept of an imaginary friend to an all new level, by telling the story about how a imaginary person does everything he can to stay “alive” in the real world. Although the concepts and ideas are rich and unique, there are definitely some parts of this story that come off unclear and confusing to me.
It can be unfair at times to say that a first issue is confusing since it’s just that, a first issue. Simon is introducing the reader to a concept that’s both simple in its idea, yet complex in its execution as he tries to tell the story. Neverboy is the imaginary friend and we get glimpses into his world and the real world throughout this issue. Simon wonderfully hints at the relationship between Neverboy and his childhood friend Sam, but didn’t do enough to provide an emotional connection between the two to make me really care. When Neverboy is thrust into danger towards the end, it came off as interesting to read, but I never found myself rooting for him. Scenes and settings change quickly throughout which seems purposeful, but added to my sense of confusion.
Tyler Jenkins’ art style is a nice fit for a story like this. Jenkins’ pencils are loose and less structured, caring less about realism and more about telling the story. Neverboy’s features are dramatic, and throughout the story his look changes ever so slightly. They are subtle differences that Jenkins makes you notice. There’s a beautiful two page splash in the middle of the book that’s not only great to look at, but tells a story all its own. It is scenes like these that I wish we got more of in Neverboy. It’s a scene that draws you in and makes a connection, allowing you to invest in the characters. Hopefully Simon can write more scenes like this for Jenkins to bring to life which would go a long way in making me feel emotionally invested.
Neverboy takes a fabulous idea, and at times makes the most of it. The ending of this first issue provides a surprising twist that could have felt so much more impactful if Simon were able to take more time exploring the relationships between the young boy and his imaginary friend. At one time or another we’ve all gone through a phase of our life like this and I felt as though Simon missed the opportunity to explore that simpler time, in order to write more about the complexity of this story’s concept.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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