Paragon issue 6
Published by Dave Candlish
Written by Mark Howard, The Emperor. Art by Dave Candlish, Stephen Prestwood, Matt Soffe.
The latest issue of the Paragon anthology and this time, beneath that spittle stained cover by Don Franco we’ve dropped the number of strips to just three; the return of Elephant God adventure Battle Gasnesh, the penultimate episode of Undertow and a two parter for Jikan – the time-travelling, demon-hunting Japanese warrior. (For previous reviews – issue 4, issue 5)
I never used to like anthologies, but recently, given the talent on show in books like Solipsistic Pop or Birdsong, I’ve rather changed my mind. But Paragon is another level of anthology altogether – a serialised anthology. And being memory challenged as I am I can’t necessarily remember where the hell we are with the three stories in this issue. Maybe that’s just my problem, but I couldn’t help but think I’d rather have far bigger chunks of all the strips in this issue as it would provide a better reading experience.
Another problem is the seemingly arbitrary way Paragon drops in strips new to the readers. Battle Ganesh has been around in all three issues I’ve seen, likewise Undertow. But Jikan is completely new to me, although I understand it was in one of the earlier issues. After issue 5 I was rather hoping to see the second part of Dave Candlish’s Julian Ruby, which started so promisingly last issue. A little more issue by issue continuity and continuation would help here.
(Battle Ganesh by Emperor and Stephen Prestwood, from Paragon issue 6)
Having said that though, all three strips have something appealing about them. Best of the lot is still Battle Ganesh – “the six limbed superhero from the sub-continent!“. It’s Indian mythology with a superhero feel and is great fun. Stephen Prestwood’s art, although still suffering occasionally from just trying too much and achieving nothing but confusion, is fun, kinetic stuff and the story itself is firmly tongue on cheek as Ganesh and his team find themselves attempting to deliver a message to Lord Rama and end up in a mountain palace. Trouble quickly finds them.
But it’s over before it’s really had chance to begin. There’s a big bit of me wishes that I could just sit and read a complete battle Ganesh comic, without these long interludes between issues.
As for Jikan, the two parter in this issue, it’s got enough nice artistic touches, with it’s angular style and limited backgrounds, to make it quite visually interesting. But the story is a little limp. Something about time travel and reincarnation…… but just not enough to get me going I’m afraid.
(Jikan – Second Sun by Mark Howard and Dave Candlish, from Paragon issue 6)
The third strip is the intriguing Undertow. This is the penultimate chapter and it’s one I’m not convinced of. I’ll reserve judgement until I get the chance to read the whole thing since I think there might be a good story there somwewhere or at least some interesting plot ideas, but this bitty, fractured serialisation hasn’t done it any favours.
Last issue we found out that recently returned from the dead John Hyde was assassinated because he’s the messiah to a race of elfin people who inhabited the Earth before us humans came along. And this issue sees him stalked by a man with a sword and a Vatican plane dropping napalm on the city. He’s not popular is Hyde.
The art by Dave Candlish gets more and more like early Rian Hughes every time I see it, it’s definitely a stylistic decision as his art in Jikan, although minimal and angular is vastly different. But it’s no bad thing – after all anything that looks like Rian Hughes is okay by me and Candlish’s minimal angular style does have a lot going for it.
(Undertow by Emperor and Dave Candlish, from Paragon issue 6)
Paragon’s one of those small press books that sits, slightly uncomfortably in a middle ground of it’s own making. It’s not going to appeal to the comic shop superhero fans, it’s too rough and ready for those Guardian reading Dan Clowes fans and it’s not got that handmade feel that appeals to the arty, zine loving fans.
It does have it’s own particular style and there’s definite promise in all three of the strips on show. I just felt, after reading this sixth issue that it was too frustratingly episodic. I suppose the positive way of looking at this is that, if there ever were collections of Undertow and Battle Ganesh, I’d certainly give them a go and may well find much more enjoyment that way.
Paragon can be obtained from comic shops and the Paragon blog.