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Pariah #1: Isolation in the Stars

Pariah #1: Isolation in the Stars

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Pariah #1
Writer: Aron Warner and Philip Gelatt
Art and Lettering: Brett Weldele
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Purchase: http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/24-209/Pariah-1

There are few fears as penetrating to the psyche as isolation. The world is connected by an ethernet cable attached seemingly to our hearts. It’s becoming harder to find any solitary pleasures without feeling the need to reach into our pockets and see who is currently paying attention to us. The world has never been as small as it is today, making moments of solitary reflection truly special, yet still, companionship is only a click away. To be truly alone, completely lost, with no contact from anyone: the idea is terrifying.

What appears to be a cash in on the commercial and critical success of the film Gravity, Aron Warner’s Pariah is a different entity altogether. While the premise may be similar, astronauts stranded in space, that’s where the similarities end. Pariah focuses on a small group of ‘vitros’ (possibly clones, but time will tell) whose space station has begun to fall towards Earth. Under pressure and losing time, this group must put aside their differences if they are to make it home alive.

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Writers Warner and Gelatt successfully weave a tapestry of modern fears setting up the series themes nicely. Isolation, technology and cloning are all very modern and very real fears. These fears are expressed clearly amongst the crew, all of whom are seemingly copied from most modern sci-fi archetypes. In fact, the cookie cutter cast would almost be a fault if it weren’t for a late third act game-changer that lets the reader know they are reading something special.

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Artist Weldele keeps the panels tight and the colours stark, giving the book a claustrophobic sense of dread. Instead of splash pages showcases the beauty of the stars, readers are forced into panels like the characters on the page. There is no respite from the tension and even when you expect a bit of relief in terms of scope, the script has other plans.

The panels themselves are drenched in blues, lulling the reader into a false sense of tranquility. It’s only in moments of panic do we get flashes of yellow, making us question the mental state of the crew as they struggle to get a grip on the situation at hand. The result is a splendidly sculpted page turner that benefits from going against traditional modern comic structure.

More than just a Gravity-grab, Pariah’s debut issue confidently bucks the trend of storytelling, to tell a tale of paranoia, isolation and fear. With a strong premise and by encompassing the swagger of an experienced comic team, Pariah is on the right path to becoming one of 2014 more terrifying reads.

-Sean