We’re still catching up on reading from after Christmas and so this week we have mixed bunch that we;ve loosely grouped together in a kind of sci-fi/action collection. They include: dystopian sci-fi Peace of Mind; Ram V’s stunning debut for Image Comics, Paradiso; and a slice of crazy action from the excellent Luzasz Kowalczuk in Strike Team Code Name DIamond Force.
Peace of Mind (Grym Studios)
This debut comic from Grym studios is set in a dystopian future where people are plugged into a Matrix-like VR simulator, and follows one user who breaks the terms of condition of using the system and is ejected (supposedly dead) only to be rescued by a team of outcasts who try to save her when they realise she is still alive. Writer Calum Fraser and artist Emiliano Correa have created a really slick and smart sci-fi thriller with shades of the Matrix and Philip K Dick but told with a very sophisticated modern gloss to it all. The story starts with an idealistic VR world, only for the lead character to be ripped from it for not having the right package. With this the story degenerates from a bright and clean digital world to a grim and dark underworld full of callous guards and grimy shaven headed people in pods. Correa’s artwork is a real revelation here and creates a stunning and very accomplished style for this book, packed full of fine detail and really smart designs of the technology. The opening pages feel incredibly slick and like something from an Image book, and although there is a slight drop in quality half way through, it still looks very accomplished for a debut. (Especially in the final third which uses a bleached out white background for a virtual interrogation scene and also the incredible cover.) This first issue does a superb job setting up this new world and poses just enough questions and scenarios to encourage you to come back for more. So be sure to get plugged into this superbly smart sci-fi thriller.
Paradiso #1 (Image Comics)
After the dark noir of Mumbai Nights, Ram V is again exploring the depths of a huge city, but this time the dystopian future city of Paradiso. In this debut issue we follow traveller Jack Kryznan who is desperate to get into the city and is prepared to barter his skills as a tinkerers apprentice in order to do it. But inevitably this creates a trail that the city’s undesirables are quick to follow as they discover his techno secrets. From the opening page, Paradiso is an absolutely jaw dropping comic with some of the most incredible artwork we have scene in years. Ram does an amazing job building up the world of Paradiso and it’s roster of bizarre and unsettling characters (especially the terrifying Mr Honeybad), while artist Devalya Pramanik excels in creating this messy cyber punk world. It’s not a dirty sci-fi world, rather a cluttered one as even simple panels are packed full of granular detail and textures that make every page feel like you could reach into the page and touch it. It has shades of Simon Bisley or Liam Sharp with its muscular use of tech, but it has a softer edge to it that feels a bit like Rafael Alberqurque’s work on Huck at times. With an almost pencil coloured feel to it, the dark and earthy tones of the colouring add to the grimy and gritty feeling and gives the whole thing a mix of future sci-fi and vintage pulp adventure. While it feels like a very simple opening chapter without too much fussy and detail what it does do, is puts the various pieces of the puzzle perfectly into position and sets up the world we are in. As such it is one of those perfect debuts that offers so much that you cannot wait for the next issue and also can’t wait to re read the whole thing in a trade to really see how the story develops. With so many other great books coming out of image these days, we hope this finds its audience as it feels to us like it is destined to be one of those really special books that flies under the radar. So be sure to get on board this really exciting creative team now, before the rest of the world discover how great it is.
Strike Team Codename Diamond Force
The latest piece of high energy craziness from Lucas Kowalczuk sees him team up with writer Michael Tanner to create a homage to 80s action movies like Delta Force or Rambo. After the relative subtlety of Samurai Slasher Late Fees, Stroke Team Codename Diamond Force is all out action and adventure as our team of heroes – Duncan a muscle bound adrenaline junkie, Billy a karate master and Sizzler a gun-toting female cop – are sent on a mission to rescue a boat load of glamorous ladies (including the president’s mistress) from a group of ninjas. Cue crazy explosions, gun fighting that would make John Woo flinch and more martial arts than a Van Damme/Segal/Jet Li mega marathon. With it’s tongue firmly in it’s cheek, this is every bit the homage to 80s action movies that Knock Off Wars was to 80s cartoons and you could not ask for a better artist to work on this than Kowalcuzk. The only thing that slows down his frenetic style is a lack of colour, but even in black and white this is another explosive book from one of our favourite small press artists. Although the story is a bit threadbare and far-fetched, that is also the point. Instead of plot it is packed full of action movie tropes and cliches and definitely doesn’t worry about making things politically correct. So if you thought the Expendables was a bit too tame and made too much sense, then you need to get Strike Team Codename Diamond Force exploding into in your life!
Strike Team Codename Diamond Force will be available soon.