Writer: Ram V
Artists: Devmalya Pramanik
Colourist: Dearbhla Kelly & Alex Sollazzo
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Design: Dearbhla Kelly
Publisher: Image Comics
From writer Ram V (Grafity’s Wall, Black Mumba) comes an epic sci-fi story for Image Comics, exploring a dystopian future and the mysterious city of Paradiso. Centuries after the world-altering Midnight Event, Jack Kryznan arrives at Aquarius, a sprawling hive on the outskirts of Paradiso City. Claiming that he was once an apprentice to a Tinkerman, a master of machinery, he harbours troubling memories and carries a mysterious mechanical artefact. The device has the potential to make a serious impact on the world around Jack, and as he continues his quest to enter Paradiso City, he begins to attract sinister forces, determined to get the machine for themselves…
Issue #1 of Paradiso is a bold sci-fi story, introducing us to a new universe, and an interesting protagonist in Jack Kryznan. This dystopian future, born from an as-yet unknown event only referred to as Midnight, is a place where advanced technology is rare, as is the knowledge to maintain and build it. Jack is haunted by broken childhood memories, where he used to hide a Tinkerman’s hut from various horrors that haunted the dark, but finds himself in the sights of a hostile machine. Receiving a mysterious artefact from the dying Tinkerman, he runs, keeping the unusual object safe until adulthood. He reaches Aquarius on the outskirts of Paradiso City, and makes a trade; Tinkerman’s knowledge and designs for passage into the city. Unfortunately, Jack makes the well-intentioned mistake of demonstrating what his mysterious object can do. In this world it is clear that everyone is out for themselves, and this information begins to spread. Jack’s attempt to enter Paradiso ends in disaster, as they come under attack from two nigh-indestructible automatons. This issue ends with the introduction of a new character who has a vested interest in Jack’s artefact, and leaves us with an ominous cliffhanger ending.
The writing by Ram V is excellent, and often feels as though a larger novel has been compressed into a comic format. Characters and events are well defined, as is the world itself, but there is minimal exposition; the reader is left to interpret from the dialogue, imagery and how characters interact. This is a refreshing choice, and sets up a lot of intrigue for future issues. Dialogue is crisp and fast-paced, giving us an insight into characters and their motivations. Jack is an intriguing protagonist who I am interested in learning more about as the story progresses. Paradiso is an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic dystopia story, and thankfully avoids the clichés by bringing in interesting views on technology, its use and hints at some heavy sci-fi concepts to come.
The art by Pramanik is detailed and intricate, giving life to the grimy, run-down aesthetic of this future world. Characters are both equally detailed and expressive, and there are some excellent world-building panels, giving us tantalising hints at the environment beyond the confines of the story. This includes the eponymous Paradiso itself, a gloriously chaotic cityscape that is intriguingly suggested to be sentient in its own right. There are also some interesting panel placements, making for some dynamic action. Colouring by Kelly and Sollazzo is subtle, with a mixture of themed colours to highlight important events and characters. Coupled with the meticulous art, the post-apocalyptic world is brought to life in vivid detail. The lettering by Bidikar adds to this, with dialogue being both clear and easily read, whilst SFX integrate seamlessly into the action. It is also important to note the cover art for this issue, proudly displaying the story’s technological themes, whilst channelling a little grimy cyberpunk. The alternate cover is a surreal abstract creation, and both spoil absolutely nothing about the plot (which, personally, I find a very good thing).
Paradiso #1 is an excellent start to a new universe, bringing us plenty of intrigue and set-up for further parts of the story, whilst building a coherent world for the characters. The subtler approach to exposition might deter some readers, but for me only adds to my interest in reading the next issue. For fans of post-apocalyptic adventures, sci-fi (with a smattering of killer robots) Paradiso #1 is highly recommended. It is available in stores on December 6th.