By Ram V, Devmalya Pramanik, Dearbhla Kelly, Aditya Bidikar, and Lizzie Kaye
Creating a new world and getting readers invested in it is a difficult undertaking, especially within the confines of a monthly comic book. That’s why it’s wise to not count out a new series before its second issue. While its debut was wracked with too many unanswered questions, Paradiso‘s follow-up gives much more to work with. With a more defined plot that’s easier to latch onto, the series juggles a lot of engaging characters that are sure to hold your interest.
Paradiso‘s main plot picks up immensely, introducing and developing different parties that are all in search of Jack and the pneumas, a strange technological device. With a set goal in mind, it provides the opportunity for readers to get excited about certain possibilities, including the inevitability that they cross paths. Ram V’s writing going between the groups is more interesting than the first issue which focused primarily on Jack, letting each have time for development. At the same time, these new characters tell more about the world. Scavengers unveil the lifestyle of those within the city limits while the introduction of a little girl and giant raider duo named Hazard increase the stakes as they lead the dangerous outlaws against the protagonist. Rather than feeling overwhelming, the set roles of each of these people let the story catch its footing so we can join it when it starts running.
More of the city’s backstory is given in a quick introductory scene, unveiling the world before the cataclysmic event as a very familiar one. It doesn’t explicitly say what happened, but it doesn’t need to. Giving the reader this context was sorely needed so as to get invested. Other connections such as the mysterious Watcher character are also appreciated, making the narrative feel much more cohesive as it’s woven together. With these connections, the enigmatic elements serve as a benefit rather than negatively affecting the enjoyment of the visuals at work.
Speaking of visuals, Devmalya Pramanik’s art is wonderful to look at. Character designs of the Hazard duo are intimidating in their own way. The relationship at first glance is reminiscent of Bioshock‘s Big Daddy and Little Sister, although their connection is a little more intimate. The sheer size of the larger enforcer makes him stand out, but it’s the wild expressions of the small child that are truly memorable. Another standout moment is Jack’s interaction with a malicious fog, where a 9-panel grid structure adds to the tension. This scene also shows the talent of letterer Aditya Bidikar, making the shouts of the characters have a life of their own across panels. Bidikar’s work on the electronic voices of the issue using highly stylized balloons should also be commended. Dearbhla Kelly’s colors polish it all off to give Paradiso a unique look between painted and halftone art.
Paradiso might not have started out strongly, but the series shows it has much more to offer. Now that a destination is in play and the setting has been established, it’s much more enjoyable to watch the characters be themselves. Moving forward, Paradiso looks to be another great sci-fi adventure that will take you for a ride.