This is a bit of an odd issue. I'm all for variety in comics, as the dominance of the superhero genre does the medium a disservice, but based on previous issues of this title, I wasn't quite expecting the mix we get here.
Returning is "Undertow," which turns out to be some kind of supernatural conspiracy thriller, part-Hellraiser, part-Da Vinci Code, and while intriguing and atmospheric enough, the infrequency of Paragon's publication and the irregular lineup of its contents mean that it's been years since the first installment, and the ongoing plot gets a bit lost. It's still a simple matter to follow what's going on, as there's a bit of a recap here, but there is a definite loss of momentum, which is a shame, as there's definite eerie potential in this strip.
Also returning is Battle Ganesh, the title's de facto mascot, in a rip-roaring and fast paced blend of space adventure and Hindu mythology. Stephen Prestwood provides art in a chunky and energetic style well-suited to the tone of the story and characters. Some of the layouts stray from dynamic and inventive into unclear, but on the whole it is a bold and impressive art job. There is a sense that writer The Emperor* is trying to cram in more story than the seven pages allow, and I'd be more than happy to see a longer outing for this character.
The odd one out this issue is "We're On Our Way to Wembley," a dialogue-heavy piece of work about a group of football** fans having one last pint before getting on the bus to head down to the big game. In contrast to the rest of the issue, there's nothing supernatural or science-fictiony going on here, or even a plot as such, just some average people going about their lives, and as such it stands out. Although the strip is something of an anomaly, that's no bad thing, and I found myself quite enjoying the natural dialogue and engaging personalities of the characters, even with my general ambivalence towards football fandom. Even the art, which I would normally call basic and sketchy, seems to be a better fit for this down-to-earth story than a more detailed style perhaps would.
Chuck in a brief text piece about Flash Gordon actor Buster Crabbe, and the result is a comic which almost has a magazine-type feel. I do wonder if editor/creator Dave Candlish has gone beyond diversity in picking the contents, and has instead strayed into inconsistency, but it's possible that I'm just being picky. All in all, I would like to see Paragon be a thicker and more regular title, which is a sure sign that those involved are doing something right.
*An unofficial title, I can only assume.
**The proper kind.
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