“They’ve battled Moby Dick, matched wits with Dickens, and befriended a kingdom of evolved sea monkeys! They’re the genre-hopping heroes of Hypercity – the FICTIONAUTS! Fantasy is a serious business for this team, as they scour fictional worlds to right dangerous anomalies and preserve the balance between reality and imagination. But recently, a rash of unexplained disturbances across the fictional universe has started to tear it apart, and they face the ultimate challenge when the mysterious Agent X threatens to bring down the barriers between our world and the world of stories. Dive headlong into the madcap, mind-bending world of the FICTIONAUTS!”
“I’m ecstatic to finally share FICTIONAUTS with the world!” said Studio 407 PR & Marketing Manager Ivan Salazar during an interview with stumptowntradereview.com. “Mauro Mantella and Leandro Rizzo have crafted a story that combines over-the-top pulp action, humor, and high-concept science-fiction with some of the most famous literary characters of all time. It’s the lovechild of Grant Morrison and Herman Melville that comic fans never knew they wanted, but won’t be able to live without!” Fictionauts retails for $12.99.
This graphic novel is reminiscent of the old Flash Gordon serials from the ‘40s, complete with space suits, ray guns and weird characters from the “real” world and the “fictional” one as well. Still, it contains a high level of science fiction we don’t get much of these days.
The Fictionauts reminded me of the Challengers of the Unknown in that they are portrayed as adventurers instead of super-heroes. Still, they’re media sensations with a television show that transmits their adventures to all their fans.
The team consists of Dalan Valley, the “bravest man in Hypercity”; Zool Stone, “a world-famous actress” who abandoned her career to “meet the real stars of the skies”; Professor Emerio Standford, a literary genius who “could befriend Shakespeare’s creations or debate the philosophy of myth with the myths themselves”; and Jack, a character from a Dickens short story who “managed to emerge from his unreal universe … and exist in our world.” Of the four, Jack is the most interesting, and the most significant things happen to his character, in my opinion. They have a nemesis, Professor Calculus Poisson, and a “manager” who strongly resembles Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone.
It’s interesting that the Fictionauts patrol sees all kinds of imaginary tales, including those from movies and television along with comics and novels. There are lots of little reminders of times past, including sea monkeys (I almost bought a set of those back in the days when they were sold through comics), Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie, the Seaview from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and an evil agency with a name spelling out a word we recognize, B.E.Y.O.N.D. Younger kids probably won’t get many of the references, but it would still be an interesting read.
The story is mainly set in the 1950′s, and is complete with lots of robots, bow ties, a baddie called “Agent X” and appearances by Communists. We even get to see another staple of fiction from that era — a “negative” team of Fictionauts called the Fantasy Riders.
The pacing is a little slow at times, and the characters somewhat verbose, but that’s consistent with the feel the creators are going for. The art also reminded me of early comics, with a somewhat grainy look including the use of color. I particularly liked it when Jack spoke because his words were printed in an older style of type compared to everyone else.
If you enjoy this kind of science-fiction storytelling, be sure to pick up Fictionauts! It has a lot of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat!
For more about the Fictionauts, go to the Studio 407 website.