Written by Dirk Van Dom, Matthew McLaughlin, Greg Meldrum, Alan Holloway
Art by Dave Candlish, Stephen Prestwood, James Corcoran, Louis Carter, David Broughton
Published by Dave Candlish
(The ninth issue of Dave Candlish’s Paragon comic – reviews of previous issues are here.)
Really liking the cover this time round – good pulp hero feel, and very fitting, as it’s featuring the new strip in Paragon 9, the pulp adventure Spencer Nero. Something of a tongue in cheek Doc Savage style thing, following an old style adventurer, always ready with a quip to take on a thrilling adventure. He travels the world, sorting out all those who need sorting, with a nod, a wink, and a never ending stream of pulp hero clichés. But I like tongue in cheek pulp hero clichés.
There’s two episodes here – Nazi Aztecs in the middle of the ocean first up and then a werehyaena in East Africa. Two artists as well, but I didn’t enjoy David Broughton’s neccessarilly cartton-ish style for The Last Laugh anywhere near as much as Dave Candlish’s more stylised moments of the Island Of The Naztecs storyline. But the art serves the stories well, and it’s not a bad intro to a character all concerned may enjoy playing around with.
(The stylised Dave Candlish art from Spencer Nero and the island of the Naztecs in Paragon #9. Written by Greg Meldrum)
And staying with the interesting stuff, at the other end book we have Icarus Dangerous, a strip on its third episode, and the page recap comes in handy. It’s beginning to lose some of the originality to be honest and here with issue 3 it’s dragging a little, as Icarus starts using the newly reworked wings, far more advanced than the famous ones provided by dad. He’s fighting the Bonemen, rescuing his rescuer Meriope, and it feels just a little like it’s all setting up future chapters rather than really moving the thing along.
Some of my frustration with it, in fact some of my frustration with Paragon as a whole is very likely due to the inevitable disjointed feel of the episodic strip format, with six months between episodes. Icarus Dangerous still has potential, and it’s a strip I really wouldn’t mind seeing collected in one storyline someplace down the line.
(Icarus Dangerous by Dirk von Dom and Stephen Prestwood)
Now onto the middle stuff, which I’ll do at speed…..
Rise of the MekkoSapiens did little for me in the two previous parts, and it’s lost me completely now. It’s perhaps a measure of how little I’m getting from it that it barely registered in my (admittedly poor) memory just minutes after reading it. New artist Louis Carter does his best, but there’s just not much here to praise. Nonplussed.
The one-off No Compromise is an entry for the Strip Magazine competition, and being kind, you can see why it didn’t make it. Old guy shows up at Captain’s Island, looks mean and moody, finds what he’s come for, shoots stuff. My main problem is using child rape as a throwaway line. I’m certainly no prude, but I just think it’s somewhat unnecessary, crude, and crass. And a lazy plot device.
(No Compromise by Alan Holloway and Dave Candlish)
Yet again, there’s an episode of Jikan, this time sending the time-travelling demon-hunter back to the time of the cavemen. It’s a nice episode and James Corcoran’s art has some really nice parts, patchy yes, but nice.
Same thing as I’ve said before though – I’ve read this before, in the Jikan Chronicles book, so yet again, seeing it here seems somewhat superfluous.
(Jikan – Cave Of Death by Matthew McLaughlin and james Corcoran)
I hate to say it here, but after six issues of Paragon, I can’t see a way editor Dave Candlish is going to make it work for me. Each issue shows a little promise, and I’m always hoping that the next issue builds upon it, but it seems stuck in rather a rut of deliver some good, but a lot of mediocre strips. And comparing it against some of the other anthology works I’ve seen just makes it seem stuck in that rut. Like I said, some of this may be the problem of running a continuing anthology, with longer storylines broken by half a year or so.
The thing is, I’ve seen enough of Candlish’s work now to say screw it, why not work up something smaller scale, use the art I’ve enjoyed, develop that, and come back with something new. Because I just can’t see Paragon moving out of the niche it’s firmly stuck in. Sorry.