Pandora’s Box: Volume 2 – Sloth
Written by Alcante, art by Radovanovic
The Pandora’s Box series uses a mixture of modern tech and Ancient Greek mythology to illustrate tales of the seven deadly sins with the eighth book of the series representing hope (When Pandora opened the box seven of the eight demons escaped but she managed to keep the demon of Hopelessness trapped in the Box, thus allowing humanity hope).
This second volume brings us to Sloth with the initially contradictory tale of the world’s greatest 100m sprinter. But looking to the inside cover and the quote (that I can’t track down a source for – it may be specifically written by Alcante):
“Of Sloth, like Paris, you will succumb to the slow venom”
Which explains why this tale of Sloth concerns the world’s fastest man. The slow venom being the insidious temptation for this supreme athlete to give in to the pressures all around him and, after years of being super-clean, to cheat with steroids.
Paris Troy is the greatest 100m sprinter of his time, his world record has stood for nearly ten years and he’s never cheated, never been tempted, never needed to. But his resolve to compete clean is threatened when his fitness and power slip after his first major injury. Hot on his heels, with times getting better and better each race is young pretender to the 100m crown Ace. They’re destined to meet at this year’s Olympic Games in Instanbul.
What would Paris do to win, what temptations would he succumb to, this super-clean athlete who’s never needed to consider doping before?
(During the glory days – looking back at Paris Troy’s world record set nearly 10 years prior to the events in Sloth. From Pandora’s Box Volume 2: Sloth, art by Radovanovic, published by Cinebook.)
Temptation comes by way of Paris’ brother Hector, older but not as gifted, who gave in to his own temptation ten years ago, raced on steroids and was caught and banned. But when Paris’ struggle to regain his peak form is revealed is it only Hector’s weakness to succumb that prompts him to suggest doping to Paris, or is it something more sinister?
The story follows Paris’ long route back to steroid aided top form, reassured by his brother that these steroids are practically untraceable and there’s no way he’ll get caught at the Olympics. As the pressure mounts, from Ace, from the sponsors, from his trainer, Paris completely succumbs to his new drug aided regime. Even if he gets away with the cheating, what price will Paris have to pay for his next Olympic gold?
(Paris Troy in drug aided training, temptation so easy to succumb to. From Pandora’s Box Volume 2: Sloth, art by Radovanovic, published by Cinebook.)
It’s a great premise, full of intrigue and conflict. Brother against brother, athlete against athlete and one man against the temptation to break all of his own rules to hang on to the only thing in his life that matters. But Pandora’s Box: Sloth fails to live up to the premise. It’s not a terrible failure, just a moderate one. I wanted something more involving and less obvious than this – there’s a couple of twists at the end that are pretty obviously signposted along the way and I kept finding the determination of Alcante to shoehorn the references to the Trojan War rather annoying. It reads well enough, but ultimately it’s no winner.
The first volume; Pride (review) I rather enjoyed. This second volume just doesn’t have the same enjoyment for me. There’s nothing to make me go “wow” here, not in the writing and not in the artwork – I’m sure that Alcante wanted an artist to capture the dynamic, superhero like qualities of the world’s fastest man. But although Radovanovic starts out really well, capturing the athletes in action, this early promise flounders somewhat in the pages that follow.
The concept of Pandora’s Box is still an intriguing one, but with two stories complete, it seems the execution of the stories are having trouble living up to the ambition of that concept. At this point, two parts in, I doubt I’ll be sticking with it till the end.