Review - Paradiso #1 (@imagecomics)

"And we'd tell stories of things that stalked the empty places of the world."

Living in a world devoid of a safe normality is certainly one wouldn't necessarily ask for, but sometimes it's what you're given. In Paradiso #1 from Image Comics, the new normal is scrap and fight to survive. The issue is written by Ram V, illustrated by Devmalya Pramanik, colored by Dearbhla Kelly and Alex Sollazo and lettered by Aditya Bidikar.

The Midnight Event forever changed the world. Now, centuries later, Jack Kryznan arrives on the outskirts of Paradiso City, haunted by fragments of childhood memories and in possession of a mysterious device—one with the power to change the destiny of this living breathing metropolis, the people who dwell within, and the guardians who strive for and against it.

The title of the book hints at a special place that the characters are trying to get to and Ram V doesn't hesitate in making that the destination of just about every character in the book so their paths will cross with one another. At the center of it all is Jack Kryznan who is very strong as a lead character, with Ram V funneling the narrative through him. Where Ram V really succeeds though is by referencing an entire universe rather deftly in places in the issue without completely overwhelming the reader. The dialogue is exceptionally good at this, in that Ram V provides plenty of insight into the characters and their motivations for their actions; all of this comes together well to really make the world feel fleshed out. The pacing of the issue is also spot-on as Ram V doesn't hurry things just to make sure plot checkboxes are ticked off.

The artistic approach by Pramanik is gorgeous in a way that evokes memories of Yoshitaka Amano's work on the Final Fantasy series in that it feels somewhat otherworldly. Pramanik's style is much grittier than Amano's though and that approach does wonders for setting the tone of the book and the world itself. The characters are rendered with costumes that reflect a forced resourcefulness on the part of the characters as Pramanik's costume designs are well-thought out. There's also an exaggerated sense of physique in some of the characters as Pramanik's way of reminding the reader just how much the world has changed since the Midnight Event. The colors by Kelly and Sollazo are darker, helping the characters blend into the world and making them a part of it at times.

On its surface, Paradiso #1 seems like just another post-apocalyptic tale with winners and losers, but as you dig deeper you realize there's a lot more to it than just that. Jack Kryznan is the pivotal player in the book and his role cannot be understated as a result, but all the characters around him are equally as important for other reasons. Ram V's script is straightforward and brilliant in its succinct universe building. Pramanik's illustrations are perfect in conveying how damaged the world has become and how the inhabitants of the world have been forced to adapt. Paradiso #1 is a solid first issue that hits all the right notes and entices the reader to come back for more.

Paradiso #1 is available now.