Writer: Ram V
Artists: Devmalya Pramanik
Colourist: Dearbhla Kelly
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Design: Dearbhla Kelly
Publisher: Image Comics
Dropping us straight back into story following last issue’s surprise ending, it seems war is coming to Paradiso, as the cyborg duo ‘Hazard’ are hot on the trail on Jack, his location revealed by his traitorous new ‘friend’. Intercepted by the robotic guardians of Paradiso, a bloody fight breaks out, but this group of raiders are ready for the assault. Meanwhile, Jack and his new companion find themselves in Arbuck, the settlement that quite literally floats in the air. Jack is recognised by the scavenger Karin, and saved from summary execution. The trio head towards the Black Factory, source of the guardians, and host to a very talkative (and enigmatic) artificial intelligence called Kronos…
Some spoilers for previous issues of Paradiso follow!
This is an interesting issue, including both several pieces of recap and revelation, whilst simultaneously providing us with some additional worldbuilding exposition. The story opens with the robotic ‘guardians’ of Paradiso engaging the cyborg duo Hazard’s raiders, although their normal guaranteed victory is looking unlikely, as this particular group came ready for them. Meanwhile, we are introduced to the community of Arbuck, currently settled on a suspension bridge that defies gravity. Unwilling to believe Jack’s story, or that of his deceptive travelling companion Vance, he is saved at the last moment by the scavenger Karin. Recognising Jack’s face and name from the digital display showed to her in the previous issue, she takes Jack to the Black Factory; source of the robot guardians, an AI called Kronos, and a revelation about Jack’s origins. Kronos was present during his initial escape with the pneumas, and in the middle of that nightmare encounter, it seems as if one half of Hazard was present too. Jack is reunited with the pneumas, but with the settlement of Arbuck under direct threat, events rapidly turn into a race against time.
The writing by Ram V is once again excellent, although it has to be said that this is a very dense issue in terms of story. Recaps of past events are intertwined with the present, and there is a strong theme of memory in the narrative. This issue feels more even more like a condensed novel, and even includes a panel that reads like an illustrated book; this is an interesting choice, although it feels a little jarring in a series that so far has achieved a lot of world-building with subtle hints, art and dialogue. Regarding character dialogue, there is a large cast in this issue, and Ram V makes each character sound distinct, including the non-human ones. This is no mean feat, but he achieves it admirably. This issue also gives us some answers about Jack’s history, as well as some interesting hints about the antagonists. There are a lot of story hooks here for later issues, and it will be interesting to see how this series comes to a conclusion. The action stays vibrant and exciting, and each panel contains a lot of well-realised details.
Speaking of which, the art by Devmalya Pramanik is varied and excellent, and includes the intricate character and background details that have become synonymous with this series. The various mechanical constructs that roam this universe also have fantastic unique designs, as does the bizarre architecture of Paradiso; it is safe to say that this series gives Pramanik a chance to flex his creative muscles! The colouring by Dearbhla Kelly compliments the art style, especially with the bursts of neon-like effects indicating the advanced technology at play in this story, and colour is used expertly to highlight key moments. Aditya Bidikar provides the lettering for Paradiso #3, and ensures dialogue, sound effects, and the ominous machine chatter stands out. There are also some panels that combine art with lettering, adding visually pleasing variations to comic book standards, and making sure Paradiso pushes its way ahead of other published titles. Talking of art, John Pearson is on cover duty for Paradiso #3 and has created a neon-tinged image, showing us what looks like the hands of Hazard, assembling a construct. It appears the younger half of Hazard is important to the future story, and little hints about her are always welcome.
Paradiso #3 keeps up the pace and complexity of the previous issues, whilst including some elements of recap. Thematically dense, it is arguably not the ideal starting point for someone who wishes to read the occasional casual issue, but really, you should be reading this excellent series from start to finish anyway. The creative team is on point as always, generating a beautifully put-together world, populated with distinct, detailed characters. The complexity may put off some readers, and there is a lot to process in this issue, but personally, it makes me eagerly await Paradiso #4.
Paradiso #3 is available now from Image Comics.