Jim Zub and Felipe Andrade's "Figment" #1 finds a put-upon genius scientist failing in the tasks set before him, but brining to life a creature he imagined as a child: Figment. It's with life breathed into Figment that this story also begins to come alive.
Zub lays out all the pieces well enough -- the misunderstood genius scientist, his typical angry boss, the starving family at home relying on the scientist's success -- but it's just all rather dull and not entirely necessary. It's ten pages before the book reveals its true identity: a book about Blair (the scientist in question) and Figment, a purple dragon that Blair created as a child and now Blair's invention has been made real -- or rescued from the recesses of his mind, it's unclear exactly how he came to be. With Figment, Zub and Andrade's tale finds the charm and balance it was initially lacking.
The immediate acceptance Blair has of Figment coming to life -- as well as how Figment is integrated into the story going forward -- is not terribly realistic and almost entirely glossed over. However, Figment brings such needed energy and humor to what is otherwise a rather tired story of a scientist on a mission to harness energy that it's hard to object to the way it's handled. You're just glad the story has finally kicked in. With Figment comes all manner of possibility. Zub effortlessly gives Figment a zing that lightens and enlivens the tale and Figment's out of place looks give Andrade something fun to do beyond some cool steam punk designs.
Andrade's work on the whole, with strong painterly colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu, is solid and lovely. The book feels period enough, but with an odd steampunk element that is subtle enough to not be too distracting and cool enough that it keeps the story from feeling too dry, which is all to say that the helmet that Blair wears to power his machine is fantastic. Andrade's design for Figment is great, and like Zub's writing, is the most energized and expressive part of the book. All of Andrade's character acting is great and Figment is no exception. Perhaps the best thing about Andrade's work however is the promise of the last pages. As Blair and Figment are sucked into a portal of sorts, Andrade really begins to cut loose and shows the wonderful potential of future issues that promise a bit more creativity -- a task Andrade is more than ready for.
After a rough opening ten pages, Zub and Andrade really find the sweet spot for their book. With Figment and Blair's relationship as the cornerstone of the series they have something solid and energizing to work with and though the first third of the book is a bit of a bore, by the end it's full of promise.