Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Comic Review: Aron Warner's Pariah, Volume 1

Title: Aron Warner's Pariah
Authors:  Philip Gelatt, Aron Warner
Illustrator: Brett Weldele
Publisher: Sea Lion Books
Release Date: 07/24/2012
ISBN: 098361315X

I have to say, if the goal of Sea Lion Books sending me review copies is partially to make me want to own the physical books myself, they're achieving it with a rate that's probably scaring my checkbook. (Not that I don't scare it myself every time I walk into my local comic book store or Barnes & Nobles.) I need this book, just like I needed a copy of the first volume of Storm Born.

Brent Marks, a known Vitro, is desperately trying to live a normal high school life while suffering the slings and arrows of being known as an uber-geek. But, things go from bad to worse when the Vitro community, en-masse, is blamed for a fatal explosion in a military weapons lab and the subsequent release of a deadly toxin. Caught up in a global panic, the Vitros become subject to a groundswell of persecution, as they are declared terrorists and hunted down!

The first issue of the comic was rather slow in revealing its data, and despite the fast pace of the first volume, I'm still left with a lot of questions that haven't been answered. This is to be expected, as you don't give it all up in the first go, but I'm dying to know more about these characters. What exactly are the Vitros? They're smart, but why are they so different? How were they made? Were they really accidental? One of the characters in the series makes an off-hand remark about Vitros being an accident, but somehow I'm not so sure of that.

There's a lot of character introductions here, so you really only get enough to get a basic feel for the more important people. One of my two favorites has to be the super-smart yet somewhat out of touch Franklin, a Vitro that was raised in an unloving and completely isolated environment. As such he has the book smarts yet perhaps not the street smarts to deal with the others. The other favorite has to be the uber-creepy Maudsley, who thinks nothing of manipulating people with nothing but his words... to deadly effect. There's some pretty intriguing characters here and the first issue deals with the brainy Brent, but these two are the ones who truly stole the spotlight and odds are that they'd be the two best characters to watch. If they were real, I'd love to see what an interview with either of them would be like. (Although I'll admit that I'm grateful that Maudsley doesn't exist IRL. That I know of.)

Volume one of this series ends with quite a bang, so I'm glad that I had issue five bundled into my review copy. I'm going to write a mini-review for that, but I'll leave that on the final part of my blog. If you don't want spoilers, you'll want to stop here. If you want to know, read on. Just know that this is well worth the price of admission, and with all of the comics being adapted into movies or TV shows, this would be something that would look good on either screen. Absolutely worth checking out.

(Thar be spoilers, arr!)

Now for the evaluation of issue 5. The first volume ended with our intrepid teens waking to find themselves on an ancient space station. A space station that they soon discover is rapidly deteriorating to the point that they're going to die within five hours if they don't find a way to (if I could quote Tim Gunn) "make it work". This issue has them focusing their superhuman intellects on the task at hand, which is pretty interesting to watch. So far we've seen glimpses of what they can do, but never really any of the actual work in depth. This issue shows us how they might work as a team in the future. The issue is pretty well paced and as a result, is nice and exciting. There's also some great foreshadowing in the artwork by way of a well placed image in the helmet of a space suit (no spoilers on what it resembles!) and Weldele is to be congratulated on this. I'm rather happy that SLB has the same artist doing the artwork, as it allows for more collaboration between the teams and a better understanding of the story than if they'd brought someone else in partway through. (Plus I really dig his style.) Definitely a good followup to the cliffhanger of the first volume.

I know this sounds fangirlish, but this is one of those great indie series that will probably never get the attention it so very much deserves. 

Five out of five stars

(Reader copy provided by Sea Lion Books)

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