Comprised of three short stories, Paklis uses a blend of science fiction and existentialist themes to create some pretty interesting reads. The first is a Kafkaesque narrative called “Mushroom Bodies,” and the latter two are a pair of space adventures: “Sagittarius A” and “Amnia Cycle.” From the three, “Amnia Cycle” is the most promising, but whatever merits it possesses, they’re barely enough to compensate for the weirdness and brevity of its companion pieces.
Here I normally give a summary of the story I’m reviewing followed by a short critique, but since Paklis consists of three distinct narratives I find myself in a bit of a quandary. On the one hand I want to evaluate each tale separately, while on the other, I don’t want to present the reader with a review the size of Moby Dick. So, I’m going to make this as easy as possible: skip “Mushroom Bodies” and “Sagittarius A.”
‘Mushroom Bodies’ is a bizarre, alienating story that’s too weird for horror fans and too rudimentary for existential enthusiasts. The story has themes of authenticity, angst, and alienation, and Weaver does do a good job of putting them together through the use of cockroach symbolism. But other than that it’s no different than any of the other thousands of nihilistic narratives out there. And that’s assuming you’re familiar with Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre. Otherwise, you’ll just think it’s dumb.
As for “Sagittarius A”, the only reason I advise to skip it is because it’s just way too short. It’s literally two pages long with some old guy talking to some middle-aged guy. The premise itself seems interesting enough: a grieving son is on a journey to find his father’s clone in a world where interstellar flight and cyborg enhancements are as customary as meat and potatoes. The problem is the story never takes off because it’s only two pages.
This brings me to “Amnia Cycle.” This is actually a fairly good story, and I suspect it’s what Weaver really wanted us to read. It takes place in the distant future where space travel is commonplace and humanity is at war with an aggressive cyborg race. During a routine mission, a human pilot, Tara, investigates a crash site—only to discover a mysterious alien named ‘Amnia’. The alien tells Tara it foresaw their encounter and is on an important mission to save the solar system. Together the two of them team up to find Amnia’s ship and hopefully save the world.
As I noted earlier, “Amnia Cycle” is the best story in the Paklis anthology. It’s nicely illustrated and has a fairly interesting premise. It falters a bit in that Tara is a little too trusting and the obstacles are a tad too easy, but besides that the story is entertaining and certainly warrants a read. In particular, I like how quickly Weaver moves the plot along. Within just a few pages he takes us out of the first act and well into the first two adventures of the second act.
Is “Amnia Cycle” so good that it warrants the $5.99 price tag? Well given that two of the three stories in Paklis are filler, I’d say get this only if you’re really into space adventures. “Amnia Cycle” is good, but it’s no X-O Manowar or Saga. I think if Weaver had made the characters a little more believable and the action scenes a little less predictable, I’d say go ahead and give it a try. But since the best story is no different than your average run-of-the-mill comic, and since the other two aren’t even worth reading, I’d say wait until the second installment arrives. Maybe Weaver will do something to convince me there’s more here than just mediocrity. Until then, I’d pass.
Paklis # 1
Writers: Dustin Weaver
Artists: Dustin Weaver
Colorist: Dustin Weaver
Letterer: Dustin Weaver
Publisher: Image Comics