Paklis" #1 from Image Comics -
Paklis is a sci-fi anthology from the uber-creative mind of Dustin Weaver. The anthology is broken down into three stories:
1. "Mushroom Bodies" - Greg is at his wits' end, and in his situation, that's very understandable. What else can you do but go insane when your body is morphing into that of a bug?
"Mushroom Bodies" is a surreal tale of paranoia. Reminiscent of Franz Kafka's masterpiece, The Metamorphosis, "Mushroom Bodies" follows the story of a protagonist trapped by paranoia, fear, and powerlessness, so much so that his body inexplicably morphs into the ultimate example of insignificance: a bug. I find this story to be the most interesting of the bunch. On the one hand, it has a nihilistic bent, seemingly suggesting that there is little difference between a human or a bug because life, all life, is a state of a chaos, leading to a lack of any real control and any real meaning. On the other hand, it is inundated with existentialism, suggesting that even though a person's fate be beyond their control, it is their own will that defines how they perceive/create and interact with their world. Both of these philosophies culminate in acceptance - either acceptance of meaninglessness, or acceptance of ultimate responsibility for your perceptions and actions. Packed with so many interesting themes, and so much content to ponder, "Mushroom Bodies" is a bit of a modern-day comics masterpiece, even if it is a tad derivative of Kafka's novella.
2. "Sagittarius A*" - In the distant future, humanity has spread further into the universe. Linus, a war hero has come back from the front lines to find his missing, or deceased, father. Destination: the galactic core, Sagittarius A.
Only 2 pages long, "Sagittarius A*" is a gorgeously rendered sci-fi tale done all in black and white. In a masterful stroke of storytelling, Weaver gives us the backstory and everything else we need to get hooked into this tale in such a small space. We are introduced to the protagonist, his trauma is exposed, we find out he is a hero, and that he is looking for his estranged, possibly dead, father who also happens to be a war hero. This story did so much in two pages, I was quite literally astounded.
3. "Amnia Cycle" - Once again, in the distant future, humanity has established an intergalactic empire and it is at war with an alien race called the Nuriel. Air-Man Tara Donnia is a hotshot pilot on a routine recon mission on a lonely planet when she spies what seems to be an asteroid falling to the ground. What seems to be an asteroid is actually a humanoid alien named Amnia who announces that it loves Tara, and is looking for a place called Apuli, and its lost ship, the Plinius. When Tara decides to help Amnia, she soon finds herself running from her own fleet, and trapped in a vessel in a secluded sector of space.
"Amnia Cycle" differs from Weaver's other offerings because, in lieu of character development, we jump right into the action, which for me, made the story a lot of sound and fury, but having little meaning. While "Amnia Cycle" is definitely the most pedestrian of the three stories, nonetheless, it was by no means uninteresting.
Overall, Paklis, is an exceptional sci-fi anthology that is sure to please those who are fans of science-fiction and tales that wrestle with philosophy and the human condition. It's a throwback to illustrious predecessors, books like Métal hurlant, and its American spawn, Heavy Metal, just a lot less racy (so far). The most obvious way that it differs from its predecessors is in the fact that it is all coming from the fertile mind and adept hand of one creative genius. Weaver is putting on a clinic in creativity here with three meaty tales of his own devising, and three distinct art styles. It's beyond unique - it's rather brilliant...And it has to be with a HEFTY price tag of $5.99 per issue. I definitely want to follow this book. I have a feeling we'll soon see something on the big or small screen that emerges from Weaver's gifted imagination.
RATING: 9 out of 10.