The Paladin (thepaladincomic.com)
Written by Chris Antzoulis
Illustrated by Fabio Valle
The Paladin is the first issue of a new series. I actually picked up a copy at a convention, after meeting the writer and illustrator. Based on the cover art, I was pretty excited to read it. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a fun read, and there is a lot of depth to the story–I had to spend a lot of time with the book to catch all the nuances.
Giovanni Destro, or Gio, a handsome celebrity author, lives in a post-apocolyptic world in which humanity has survived a thermonuclear war, but in which everyone has been mutated in various ways. His sister Lyra, for example, can divide into two perfect copies of herself. Gio, however, has no mutation. He is a perfectly normal human being in a world of the unusual. He hides his lack of a mutation with pills which somehow give him the appearance of having a nuclear “gift” and allows him to blend in.
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of innovation in this story. A young man who is haunted by the ghosts of his parents, who were killed while trying to protect humanity, tries to blend in and make a life, while his sister insists on trying to fulfill her parents’ mission. What sets this comic book apart is the quality of the writing. Antzoulis tells the story concisely, with crisp vocabulary, while providing just enough detail to let the reader know what events in the past have led to Gio’s decisions in the present. If I had one complaint, it would be that I felt that very little actual storytelling happened in this issue. It primarily seems to set up the back story and current situation as Gio decides whether or not to embrace his destiny.
The cover art of this book is absolutely gorgeous. The inside art is clear and it’s easy to see what is going on in each panel. Flashbacks are colored in sepia tones, which makes it easier to tell what is happening when. There are no surprises in the art.
This book is going in a good direction. I think Antzoulis has a lot more to tell his readers, and I think it will be worth the wait. The final pages of the comic reveal a couple of new developments which should lead to complex character development for Gio. This book gets three and a half Death Stars from me.