By Sloane Leong
One of the marks of a great story is its ability to suspend disbelief. How far the reader is willing to go along, especially when dealing with unfamiliar vocabulary and fantastical situations, is the line that writers are constantly pushing. Without this desire to dive into the strange, the fictional landscape would be a far lesser place. This is the space that Sloane Leong’s Prism Stalker operates, with an uncomfortably alien world and interesting characters that are not to be missed.
Prism Stalker‘s protagonist, Vep, is one of the many refugees taken from their home planet to work for a colony of insectoid aliens. Much like the work of Jonathan Hickman, Leong throws the reader right into this strange new world, leaving little breathing room for the plot’s string of developments. This complements the inherent wonder of the genre, exposing readers to a setting that becomes a satisfying puzzle for them to solve. Multiple readings of the issue will reveal intricacies that could be easily looked over, but once exposed bring more appreciation and understanding to a small corner of Prism Stalker‘s universe.
Vep’s own journey through her unfamiliar environment is a strong anchor point for the story’s larger themes. Her struggle between survival and the preservation of her people’s way of life is one that’s easily understandable due to the use of aliens, but it’s also a very human occurrence. History has shown this again and again, where ancestral cultures and traditions became the casualties of imperialism and globalization. And while Vep’s people can be interpreted in this way, the more powerful message that shines through is how relatable her doubts and fears are. There’s time for quiet introspection and wider ideas within the space of a single issue. Leong makes the reader feel for a character and leaves room for thought in future installments and beyond, a demonstration of her strong writing ability.
However, Leong’s talent doesn’t end there. She also provides some fantastic looking art and imagery. The designs of the creatures as well as the gooey nature of the surroundings are eye-popping, to say the least. At times psychedelic, the setting also has a controlled measure of practicality, never being visually odd just for the sake of it. A page for instance might drift between the past and present, purposefully showing the remembrance of what’s been lost and the pain that comes with it. Along with instances in lettering, whether it be the impact of a single word across a panel or the unique script of a spoken foreign language, it all comes together to deliver added meaning behind the narrative.
Prism Stalker #1 has exactly the type of storytelling that should be applauded in independent comics. Powerful themes along with complex characters and intriguing set-ups result in a book that will suck in any interested reader. It seems as if the first issue only scratches the surface of what’s possible, a welcoming invitation into the series’s uncomfortable unknown. Be sure to watch out for Prism Stalker‘s release on March 7th, 2018.