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Fishflies #3 – Raw Reality with a Side of Fantasy

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Credit: Image Comics

Writer / Artist: Jeff Lemire

Lettering & Design: Greg Lockhard

Publisher: Image Comics

Have you ever seen those videos or articles that break down two separate movies or TV shows to their basic principles to show how they are exactly the same story? A common example was how Black Panther and The Lion King are the same movie. I always found that exercise to be quite disingenuous because it assumes the story is found in the generalities of the plot. When in fact it is everything between those generalities that determines what makes something work. 

I bring that up because when reading Fishflies there are a lot of past properties that it could easily be compared to both past and present. ‘A young child finds a creature of unknown origin that has immense power and is frightened by the world around them. Due to the child’s gentle empathy, they form an unbreakable bond.” Pete’s Dragon, Iron Giant, heck even Transformers could be granted that basic outline. That does not take anything away from them or this comic as originality as a fleeting concept. Execution is what matters.

Jeff Lemire is a smart storyteller and utilizes that familiarity to his favor. He opens this issue with a few pages of the countryside that present a world of vast space and stillness. One wonders if not for police officers walking through a field with their dogs would there be any movement at all as even the windmills appear dormant. This is a world that can quickly isolate, which is a rather important factor as the story unfolds. 

Credit: image Comics

There is a great bit of craftsmanship as well when Officer Daniel Laraque has a conversation with Helen Tremblay. As their conversation begins they are physically separate within the scene and panels. As their conversation continues we inch closer. The camera moves further and further in until Laraque’s face completely engulfs the panel. The intimacy increases and apparently so does their bond until they discover the goals they are focused on are vastly different. That separation becomes present once more just before we move elsewhere.

Fishflies has this running element of magical realism that has become more and more present in Lemire’s work over the years. Here for example we get this continuous motif of the fishfly. A seemingly pointless creature that appears to have some sort of mystical power that is not fully clear. Part of me wonders if that lack of clarity will persist even as this story ends.

That wonder is then juxtaposed with the rawness of reality. Franny Fox is the epitome of those opposing ideals as she deals with the horrors of her daily life while trying to hide a magic fly creature. Those two worlds come to a head within this issue in one of the most shocking scenes of this series thus far.

Credit: image Comics

I will say that Lemire may be a victim of his own success as I do not have quite the level of emotional connection to the characters in this story as I have in his past works like Essex County, Royal City, or Mazebook. The biggest glaring example is that of Lee David Simard, who sets everything in motion with his actions. He is a tragic figure of his own doing yet so much is still unknown about him that it is a challenge to fully grasp his development beyond the obvious physical change. With one issue left though that could easily transform with the right amount of context.

Fishflies #3 is not in a hurry to push the story along which is why it works as well as it does. Lemire allows real people to have real conversations about real issues but injects just the right amount of the fantastical to make things interesting. 

4/5

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comicconcierge
comicconcierge
A fan of all things comics and believer in, "Comic are for Everyone, the Key is Finding the Right One". I hope to help in that search which is why I dawned the moniker Comic Concierge. Find most of my stuff on TikTok.

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