Writer: Dustin Weaver
Artist: Dustin Weaver
Cover: Dustin Weaver
Publisher: Image Comics
Paklis #1, from Image Comics, is the first entry in an Anthology series by Dustin Weaver. Known for his high-concept artwork at Marvel, with such books as S.H.I.E.L.D. and Avengers, Weaver shows it’s not just his writing partners that can bring entire universes to life in each panel. Containing three short tales, including a horrific fever dream, a two-page beginning of a sci-fi epic, and a looser, long-form sci-fi story, it clocks in at about 46 pages of story.
Just flipping through the book, without even reading a word, you can see the artistry as Weaver plays with colour and perspective to visually convey emotions and intensity. The first story “Mushroom Bodies” is an introspective tale of a man dealing with a crippling psychosis that is causing him to see everyone in the world as giant cockroaches. It may sound goofy, but creepy panel layouts, psychedelic color palettes and twisted perspectives give us a taste of the downward spiral the main character is feeling. I swear, I could hear the horror movie music sting when each chapter title showed up on a page turn. It bares mentioning that this story shares some themes with Regression, a Cullen Bunn book released last month. This might just show how many people can be bothered by the same phobias, using their comic work as catharsis to dispel them. Being mostly “talking heads”, some artists would struggle to keep it visually appealing, but Weaver shows his range. Some of his exterior shots even have an almost “Mobius: Incal” look to them.
The second story “Sagittarius A*” is just a 2-pager starting a pilot on his quest to find the whereabouts of his father. Presented across a double page spread in black & white, Sag A* is artistically dense, and does end with an interesting twist to bring the reader back for future entries.
The final piece, called “Amnia Cycle”, follows a militant space pilot who finds an alien being while on recon. This story felt looser, both in art and writing. The art takes an almost “storyboard” style with simple line art and duotone colors. The simple colors are used to convey flashbacks and setting changes well though. After reading the backmatter of this issue, I learned that Weaver basically improv-ed the first 12 pages, drawing them as they came to him on a couple long flights. I try not to let extra content affect how I feel about the main story, but it did illuminate his style choices and help show the parallels between the characters adventure and his own artistic journey.
This issue was worth the $5.99 price point for digital or print copies, but the second issue is solicited at $2.99 digital and $5.99 print, which may help keep readers on this title.
Not just an artistic showcase for Dustin Weaver, but a chance for him to flex his writing muscles, Paklis #1 is a great start for an Anthology book. If the continuation of these stories don’t drive you to the next issue, then the interesting concept art for future entries certainly will.