By Alcante and Alain Henriet
Five volumes in to Pandora’s Box, and it’s still unclear where Alcante’s taking this series. And it’s certainly unclear as to whether it’s really working or not.
The concept of 8 volumes that individually concentrate on linking a specific deadly sin to an aspect of Greek mythology and setting all that against a futuristic high-tech backdrop has always been attractive. But so far, with the 4 volumes up to this point it’s not truly lived up to either the premise or the promise.
Fifth time lucky?
(Page 1: Lovely foreshadowing start, as Tibor awakes from a dream of lightning – or is it something more? Pandora’s Box: Envy by Alcante and Henriet, published by Cinebook)
Envy is the story of Tibor and Eva, a couple working at the Synapse corporation, an advanced software engineering firm. But it’s obvious from the very start that there’s something different about them. Or at least something different about Tibor, as we don’t really discover that much about Eva at all.
Tibor seems far too important and knowledgeable within the company, and far too influential amongst the workers…… and then there’s the cold hands thing… could that be important or plot relevant (well, what do you think?)
(…and there’s that lightning again. Very nice touches in Cauvin’s script and Henriet’s art for Envy.)
The real difficulty is trying not to reveal the obvious thing about Envy. Yes, it’s blindingly obvious as soon as you delve into the book, and the twist is actually revealed less than halfway into the book. But there’s still enjoyment there and I’m not going to give it away for you. However, the basic promotion for the book, the blurb on the back and various little pieces here and there give us a little;
“Who are Tibor and Eva themselves, and what terrible purpose is hidden behind their existence?”
Well, in all honesty, the who and what are revealed less than halfway through the book. It all gets set in motion when an industrial accident changes their lives, and from that point they’re racing to keep one step ahead of the mysterious and deadly Blacksmith. And what’s the role in all this of Alicia Pallace, software engineer, psychoanalyst, founder of Synapse, and Charlton Roy, head of a huge defence corporation who appears to be pulling all the strings?
Like every volume of Pandora’s Box thus far, Envy seems a little too generic, and with just 52 story pages a little too rushed. It races past, and although Alcante has some really lovely ideas going on in the book, they’re sadly rather lost in the need to tell a pacey thriller. And of course, the overriding Greek myth thing is always there, and you find yourself wondering which of these characters will be filling the Prometheus role, rebelling against the Gods, providing the gift of fire/secret knowledge at great personal cost.
The art from Henriet might be a little too polished and simplistic at points, and sadly nothing in it really grabbed my attention – it’s art purely to serve the story, rather than art that really impresses, but at least it does do the job.
There’s nothing paticularly bad with Envy, but there’s just too much that’s all too obvious, too simplistic. It’s an action movie blockbuster that has some interesting ideas behind it but in the end, I felt it was a concept that’s just too big for the story and the page count. However, five volumes in, I really have to see it to the very end, just to see how Alcante may tie it all together in the final volume; Hope.