Review: Paragon 1A & 1B

I've been noticing a trend in indie superhero comics recently. While there is nothing wrong with superhero comics as a genre, they tend to be bad news in the indie market and I often avoid them at cons. More often than not they are platforms for people to retell stories published by the Big Two that they liked, only wearing new clothes. Usually, you can boil the 'inspirations' for these books down to two or three popular titles at the time. Frank Miller's writing style was popular once, and you probably knew someone who had their own Spawn that they held onto since they first scribbled him in their high-school notebook. More recently, that trend has leaned towards Bendis' chatty hip Ultimate Spider-Man or Kirkman's Invincible. The trend I've noticed recently however, are more and more writers trying to be Grant Morrison.

Paragon-1A-9.26.14Miller has fallen out of favor since his post-9-11 meltdown, artistically and publicly, and Alan Moore has left superheroes behind all together, leaving them to the “emotionally subnormal”. Morrison on the other hand thinks superheroes are the tits; not only artistically relevant but maybe even realohpleaseohpleasemaytheybereal. I think he's completely insane, but that's always why I'll read anything he writes, because, unless he's punking us, he's a completely earnest writer of capes and cowls. He also comes with the added bonus for his creative adherents of elevating the job of writer to a forger of worlds, ripping mythologies out of the collective subconscious, giving them flesh, putting Technicolor clothes on their backs, and then making them fuck and fight for money. The man is worshipped by a small collective and I get it. Why wouldn't you want to be this guy, especially if you drink his Kool-Aid?

Well here's the problem. Chances are none of us will ever be Grant Morrison. We don't do nearly enough drugs for that and the Vertigo-shaped window the early Nineties gave him has closed. So what that means for poor suffering critics like me is having to drag my way through books like this, an origin story that Stan Lee would sum up in a paragraph dragged out over twenty-one pages so it could be stuffed with bad poetry.

It's the worst thing I've read since Lone Star Soul and twice as pretentious. That figure can be backed up too, because the story is told twice; the author took the same story, had it illustrated again with a different script, and advertised it as 'another perspective'. In actuality that would require a different narrative perspective, but here its beat for beat the same story, told by the same character, only written with different text.

As for the text, have you ever read something that made you question multiple times per paragraph if the author actually knew the meanings of the words being used? I had to go through this one slow, partially because the badly organized text boxes are black on blue in monochromatic blue art, and secondly because everything is written with an open thesaurus. I wouldn't even describe the book I read as a comic as much as prose with accompanying illustration.

Paragon-1B-9.26.14Art wise, Book A is better than Book B, but not good or engaging. Everything is monochrome blue, reason for being that way entirely up for debate. Book A does an abstract painterly style, but nothing here benefits from looking that way since it's an incredibly straight forward and familiar superhero origin story. Book B has your average bad indie superhero art, not quite artistically developed yet to utilize good anatomy or basic perspective.

What part of this story was supposed to earn the poetic language? Why did this story need to be told twice in identical fashion? You got your Captain America bits, your Gwen Stacy, I don't know, maybe Ben Affleck's 'Daredevil'? Books like this have been around since '63, why all the gimmicks? Is it because without them you'd be left with a book that looks and sounds exactly like the guy next to you in Artist Alley? Or because if it's hard to read it must be art?

What does 'over stricken' mean?

This isn't so much a review for this book as it is a review of this trend. When a book is like this I might as well  just tell the Editor to delete it from our long list of preview books because my frustration with this book isn't going to do anyone any favors. This isn't Death of Wolverine, no read benefits from me telling them to not buy a book they already weren't aware of.

So that's it. Trend Reviewed. 1/5.

Please go back to trying to be Frank Miller? For me?