"The Calling/the Weapon" (TALES FROM THE FRINGE #3)

I am much more pleased with this comic than I was with the last one, which I felt gave us little to nothing in regards to Broyles' background. The only way that I could see that comic being rewarding to someone is if that person had not seen "Earthling" (2.06), but I'm assuming that someone who likes Fringe enough to buy the comic books probably watches the series every week. This comic, however, is very rewarding, the first half, anyway (the second doesn't half much to offer, in my opinion). We get quite a bit of information in this comic regarding Astrid's background, and we learn something that I was actually wanting to know - how did Astrid secure her position? I know that my boyfriend was wondering, because he was suspicious (and surely still is) of her, but after reading this comic, any suspicions that I may have had have been put to rest; I no longer think that her motivations are faulty, since she seems to have been legitimately hired by the FBI. Then again, if you've seen Alias, then you know that sometimes, things are not as they seem.

If you have not read this comic yet but would like to read it, I strongly advise that you don't read any further, as this does contain spoilers. In the first half of this comic (titled "The Calling"), Astrid is building a device, a device to pick up on transmissions, and she says that she is doing so for a school project (she is still in college, as I'm sure you figured out yourself). She eventually picks up on a woman crying for help, and consequently, Astrid calls the police. The police, however, don't believe her, so they bring her in for questioning, and when they realize that they're not going to get anything out of her, they set her for free for the time being. It isn't long, however, before Astrid realizes that she has been Punk'd. She has been played the whole time by the FBI, as a way to test her abilities and see if she was worthy of recruiting, which, as it turned out, she was. I really love the line, "Everything else we can teach, but not being an agent - that's who you are, Astrid Farnsworth." It, to me, suggests that perhaps, Astrid is of more importance than we have been led to believe thus far.

Something that made me think, though, is why this hasn't been revealed in the series so far. I mean, I understand that this story was probably made up on the spot and that the writers hadn't thought of it previously, but when you put yourself in the world of Fringe or in any story, for that matter, that doesn't play a role. Being "in the zone" requires dismissing the fact that a story is a story that has been written but instead a real world, so what we're going to think about here is why characters have behaved in particular ways, since Astrid, of course, is not a character in a TV series; she is real. I see this as being a big deal, what happened to her, so you would think that she would have told Walter this story at some point. Perhaps, she was told that it was completely classified and that she couldn't share it with anyone? Perhaps, this comic doesn't prove that her intentions are good at all; perhaps, this comic suggests the possibility that she was hired by someone who claimed to be the FBI but was not, and therefore, she hasn't told the team this story, because it would be proof that she works for another agency. Alias, much?

The second story is titled "The Weapon" and is a very Fringey story, but I can't say that I liked it all that much. It's very complex and difficult to follow, and it took me a little while to get a bit of a grasp on it. The weapon seems to be this baby, which kind of reminds me of the young child in "Run Away," the second story of the third comic in the first series of comics, and the red-headed woman who infiltrates the facility seems to be the baby's mother, who is then killed in order to contain "the weapon." The scene in which the woman finds the baby's bedroom really reminds me of both Alias and LOST, which both have nearly identical scenes involving a baby's bedroom having been uncannily provided by "the enemy." I wonder whoexactly tried to contain "the weapon." Was it some branch of the government? If so, does it not play into the conspiracy that we see unfolding in the second season premiere, "A New Day in the Old Town" (2.01)? At any rate, I enjoyed this comic, especially Astrid's story. I like how we see some of her typical characteristics, such as naivety when she says, "It's a school project. I didn't think I needed a permit." Overall, I give the comic eight corrupt toy stores.

"The One That Got Away/Nonfiction" (TALES FROM THE FRINGE #2)

This issue features two stories, the first titled "The One That Got Away," which is Broyles-centric, and the second titled "Nonfiction," which, although seemingly "stand-alone," definitely gives us quite a bit to think about, but before I talk about the stories in depth, be warned that this does contain spoilers, just in case you haven't read the comic yet. "The One That Got Away" unfortunately kind of disappoints me, because it leaves me wantingmore, a lot more. I was hoping that I would get some insight into Broyles' character that I didn't already have, but I don't feel like I learned much of anything. What we do learn from this story is that Broyles used to have a partner named Corrine, but something Fringey happened to her, which left her severely deformed (her bandages reminded me very much of Jones' bandages in "There's More than One of Everything," the first season finale, episode 1.20). However, this is nothing conclusive. Why, exactly, is she deformed? Does it have something to do with the "Earthling" case? Why aren't Broyles and Corrine partners anymore? Is it because of what happened to Corrine? That only brings me right back to my original question - what didhappen to her? All we know is that she suffered from something related to Fringe Division, but we don't know what or what, if anything, it has to do with this particular case.

So, surely, you can see what I mean when I say that I am left wanting more. I already knew from "Earthling" (2.06) that Broyles' wife left him because of his obsession with the case involving people turning into dust. I already knew, or at least assumed, that he missed a lot of important family events because of his devotion to the job. None of that is news to me, and I was hoping for something to really make me drop my jaw, or at least learn something new about Broyles, something conclusive. The last comic is much different, because it answers something for me that I had been wanting to know - how did Ahmed from episode 2.03, "Fracture," become deformed, and what did Peter have to do with it? This, however, is just ultimately disappointing, especially since it is about Broyles, someone that we don't know that much about to begin with. The story focuses on the little that we do know and gives us very little else. At any rate, I am also very disappointed with the artwork, not because it's bad, but because once again, our character doesn't look like, well, our character. He does, however, look strangely like an Observer in certain scenes.

The second story is titled "Nonfiction," and this is definitely my favorite "stand-alone" comic book story to date. I found it to be incredibly intriguing and kept me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what was going to happen. The first observation that I would like to make, as I always do when this happens, when the opportunity presents itself, is that Emerson says that he has been the night watchman for the library for forty-seven years; of course he has. The number "47," for those of you that don't know, is a number that shows up quite often in J.J.-related works, most notably Alias since it actually plays a major role in the plot itself, which is why I think that just about every "47" mention since has been a "nod" to the show. Anyway, for a while, I was wondering if maybe Elizabeth was the Elizabeth, as in Peter's mother Elizabeth, but this is ruled out when we learn that she was born in 1981, which would obviously make her way too young to be Peter's mother (Elizabeth Bishop had to have been born in the 30s or 40s). So, then, I thought that the "nonfiction" room must have been an archive of Cortexiphan subjects, but this is not confirmed to be the case, either.

As interesting as I found this story to be, however, it got to be predictable near the end. As soon as Tom reads Elizabeth's future, about how she is going to be killed by a man that she knows, I thought, don't try to save her, because you're going to be the one that kills her! Of course, this is exactly what happens - the action that Tom takes to prevent Elizabeth's death is exactly what causesit, which is bitter irony if I've ever seen it. This story has so many unanswered questions, which I guess is good - what was the "nonfiction" room? Why were there books in there of people's lives, foretelling their futures? Is it a place where Observers store books that they have written about people (something that the guys with black coats really make me ponder)? If so, why are thesepeople important enough to document? Surely, they are not Cortexiphan subjects, because there aren't that many Cortexiphan subjects in existence. Why is Tom's book in flames at the end? What did Emerson know about the "nonfiction" room? How was he involved? Ultimately, I give this comic seven and a half nonfiction books, having enjoyed the second story much more than the first.