When starting a new line of comics about Disney Parks attractions, Marvel took a chance starting with an attraction that was never built. But, as I discussed in my review, this allowed them to create unique characters and introduce a new world to audiences. A whole new set of challenges can come with taking beloved characters and translating them into a new medium. Disney Kingdoms decided to face that challenge with a story inspired by Epcot’s beloved mascot, Figment.
One Little Spark Of Inspiration
By the time the first issue of Figment hit shelves, the playful dragon had been entertaining audiences in Epcot for over 30 years. His companion in the Disney Kingdoms series, however, had been removed from the pavilion in 1998. But before that the Dreamfinder was actually the star and our real guide as we took a Journey into Imagination!
So, for writer Jim Zub and artist Filipe Andrade, they were in for the task of not only translating Figment himself to a new medium but also telling a new story for the long lost Dreamfinder. What resulted was an origin story that focused much less on the titular dragon but the man who showed us what imagination meant for 15 years before Dr. Nigel Channing gave him an eviction notice.
This younger version of the Journey star went by the name of Blarion Mercurial and worked as a talented inventor in early 20th century England. He seemed filled with big dreams but based on the reactions of his colleagues had shown very little payoff. His worry and doubt seemed very out of place compared to the wise and jovial man we knew from the ride.
At this point, my excitement was tempered by cautious curiosity. This was actually the first of the Disney Kingdoms books I had read. In fact, its why I picked any of them up in the first place. I grew up with Dreamfinder and was ecstatic that he would be getting introduced to a new generation. But I didn’t know what to expect.
Luckily, Zub and Andrade had a better vision of this new Dreamfinder than I did. Figment was simply his first success in harnessing the power of imagination but he truly becomes the Dreamfinder by going on his very first Journey Into Imagination himself. Finding himself sucked into a surreal world created by the mind he has to overcome some of his uncertainties to find his way back to Earth.
Escaping dangers with the help of his pal Figment and a few allies they meet along the way, Blarion Mercurial continues to learn how to harness the power of his own imagination. Meanwhile, back in London, the same invention that opened a world of imagination to Blarion taps into the thoughts of a much more ordered mind. A well-meaning thought of structure accidentally ushers in a robotic army bent on creating order out of human chaos.
It is when times were darkest that Blarion Mercurial reached for the brightest dream. While old England was being placed under the order of this automated threat, our young hero was separated into a world of nightmares. There he held on to the merest thought of Figment and found his potential to become the Dreamfinder. Realizing this power, he becomes able to use his mind to finally open a portal back home and take his new friends with him.
There, Dreamfinder comes face to face with the mess his invention has created. He and his band of friends rush to face the threat of the Singular, leader of the robotic army. During a great battle, Dreamfinder uses his powers to create the Dream Machine, the vehicle he was riding when so many audiences first met him in Epcot. Eventually, he and Figment appear to sacrifice themselves to defeat the Singular and end the threat.
Of course, this is Dreamfinder and Figment. They’re never that far away when you use your imagination and on the last panel we see where they ended up as they glance upon the great glimmering form of Spaceship Earth. This leads to what is currently the only sequel in the Disney Kingdoms series but we’ll get to that soon enough!
As a longtime fan of the original Journey Into Imagination ride, I found this new version of Dreamfinder wonderful. He had a reason to embrace the older style we had all grown up seeing and yet was constantly looking towards the future. Figment, despite being the titular character, did not overwhelm the book with wacky antics like he does in the current version of Journey Into Imagination. The two balanced well and had distinct voices that made for a richer story.
This version of Dreamfinder and Figment were not what I was expecting going in to the story. But that’s perfectly alright. That version, for the most part, left us in 1998. An infant that went on his last journey is likely looking at voting later this year. A new version of the Dreamfinder for a new generation but that rings true to the one older fans know and love is a tall order. Luckily, I think we found one in Disney Kingdoms. Now how do we get him back inside the pavilion?