Friday, December 02, 2005

Paradox #1

Okay, I bought this about a week ago and have been trying to come up with a decent review for it ever since. When I bought it, I had two justifications for the plunge: (1) it was a #1, and that's what I do, and (2) the title "Paradox" felt erudite and sophistocated. . . like, I gotta buy that or I'm some sort of dummy. When I see the word "paradox," I'm thinking of ethical dilemmas, catch-22s, and being stuck between a rock and a hard place. So all this is going on in my head, and I say, "let's get the damn thing!" Here's what I got. . .

About the series,
Paradox: This is a title from Arcana Studio, which is currently working with such titles as Jova's Harvest (one of my next reviews), Sundown, Kade 'Kini, El Arsenal, Ezra, Full Metal Alchemist, 100 Girls, Ant, Fruits Basket, and HBO's Entourage. Paradox is a 3-issue mini-series (shortened from 4) and here's the premise: Sean Nault is a homicide detective on a parallel Earth, where the technology is powered by magic (not science). He comes upon a puzzling series of murders, committed by a weapon he's never seen--a lead bullet. Detective soon finds himself facing golems, gargoyles, and guns to solve this murder mystery that could destroy two worlds. I'll explain more about this later, but the key is to understand that there are two parallel 'worlds' on Earth, there's the Earth as we understand it (our normal human existence) and there's the Earth as the Detective sees it (based on Magic). The story is told from the perspective of Detective Nault, so you have to grock that commonality is magic. . . not science and technology.

About the author, Christos N. Gage: the Arcana website attributes the screenwriting of Law & Order: SVU and Deadshot to Gage. If you google his name, he has significant crossover work in film, television, and comic writing. I couldn't find an official website for him, if there is one.

About the artist, Luis Henrique Ribeiro: I was reading his conversation in the Paradox forum that he has a website, but I can't find it. This is Ribeiro's first U.S. comic work, but apparently he's a professional artist in Mexico. I'll include some artwork from #1, but I've got to agree that Ribeiro's stuff is pretty sweet. Gage describes his style as "realistic" and "gritty" (
see the informative Newsarama interview with Gage speaking about Paradox). As an aside, the cover work for #1 is by Steven Cummings, who's worked on Deadshot, Elektra, and Green Lantern, etc.

Synopsis (with spoilage) and Review: Let me explain a few terms. First, Paradox is set in a parallel world where everything is run by magic. So, detectives investigate crimes with magic. Those who use science are called "pragamatics"--to use the politically correct term. As you'll start to see, Nault doesn't like to use either science or magic, he's somewhere in between. There's a part in the end where the story ties together the two worlds and explains what a "Paradox" is.

What I like about the story is the tension between magic and science. Viewing everything from the perspective of magic is extremely interesting. For instance, there's a part where the detectives mention that fingerprints taken from a lead bullet won't hold up in court. Imagine a world were fingerprints don't hold up in a court of law. Anyway, it's a cool concept.

There are a few scenes that I could not figure out. In one part, Nault is hugging his upset daughter, but there isn't much development of the cause of her emotional response. I assume (which I don't like to do) that the mother's absence is somehow related. Also, using Winston Churchill seemed a little weird, but it wasn't as bad as the awkward reference to the NBA and Shaq while explaining wizards. Frankly, I think I understand what a wizard is (thanks to LOTR), but I could've used an explanation of some of the other concepts like magic, pragmatism, and paradoxes.

Overall, I read the story twice over and couldn't get over the fact that the story was too convoluted, as told. The concept is pretty sweet, but the conveyance was too taxing. As a reader, I had to work too hard to get the gist, and that's not right. Plus, I finished #1 totally confused because of the weird ending. . . talk about not having any idea what happened there!

RECOMMENDATION: while the concept is fresh and exciting, I didn't enjoy my reading experience for some reason. With all the stuff out there, I think I'll have to pass on #2.


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