It doesn’t seem so long ago that I reviewed the last issue of Dave Candlish’s confidently-named anthology Paragon but here’s another issue.
Time-travelling samurai Jikan returns in a couple of strips already seen in the collected edition of his adventures; of these the first is the best, as Candlish delivers a minimalist, almost abstract, art style that is pleasing to the eye and more interesting than his usual approach, which makes a return for the second instalment.
“Undertow” returns for the final time, and I have to be honest and say I’m glad we won’t be seeing it again. Writer The Emperor has proven himself to be a strong writer elsewhere — not least in the adventures of series regular Battle Ganesh, absent from this issue — but this strip hasn’t worked at all; the writer has commented online that the episodic format may have scuppered the story, but even reading the whole thing in one sitting doesn’t help it. From the start it was a scattered and unfocussed mess and it failed to make a favourable impression. Perhaps a different format might help, but a rewrite is probably also in order.
“The Rise of the Mekko-Sapiens” was the weak link last time around, but is much improved with this issue — although it now appears to be called “The Mekko-Sapiens Uprising”, which suggests that Candlish needs to employ a firmer approach with his editing — with a higher page count, a bit more action, and strong art from James Corcoran. It still seems a bit derivative — there are some eerie similarities with a Dark Horse series called Syn from a few years ago, but it’s too obscure a series to be an influence, I’d imagine — but at least something’s happening, and there are some interesting — and unexpected, in a story about robots — musings on religion from writer Matthew McLaughlin.
The standout is, once again, “Icarus Dangerous”. I fear that Stephen Prestwood will not grace these pages much longer, as surely some company is about to swoop down with a fat wad of cash and steal him away. Dirk van Dom’s story is action-packed and he does a good job of bringing Icarus to life as a decent and good hearted fellow, albeit a bit hapless in the face of things beyond his ken, but Prestwood’s art is the highlight. The linework is bold and the storytelling is proper How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way dynamic, as if the artist had learned his craft at the knee of John Buscema himself. There is one panel with some wobbly perspective, but that’s the only criticism of a fine job from a great artist.
Paragon seems to be improving with every issue, ironing out its flaws and developing a strong, consistent style as it goes. If it weren’t for the disappointing “Undertow” this comic would be a clear improvement over the previous issue, but even so this is an impressive anthology title.
Find out more about Paragon at http://paragoncomic.blogspot.com.
Kelvin Green erupted fully formed from the grey shapeless mass of Ubbo Sathla in the dark days before humans walked the earth. He grew up on Judge Dredd, Transformers, Indiana Jones #12, the Avengers and Spider-Man, and thinks comics don’t get much better than FLCL, Nextwave and Rocket Raccoon. Kelvin lives among garbage and seagulls and doesn’t hate Marvel nearly as much as you all think he does.