by Stuart Moore, Pablo Villalobos,
Claude St. Aubin, Federico Zumel
(Penny-Farthing Press, 2006)
A horrific disaster left a super-collider, the granddad of particle accelerators, highly radioactive. Everyone inside died. There were frogs imbedded in crystal and ghostlike wisps of something moving in the shadows. Twenty years later, the daughter of the project's leader visits what is now a mass grave instead of a failed experiment.
Such is the premise of Para, a new graphic novel that reprints six earlier issues of a comic book series of the same title. That sounds like the stuff of a great sf/horror novel, movie or graphic novel, doesn't it? Would you believe a pretty good graphic novel?
Let's look at the story. Casual pacing never builds suspense, and certainly not horror. The frozen frogs that seem an important clue are forgotten about half way through Para, and the characters have a habit of fairly long, emotionless, dialogue when confronted with apparitions and situations that would have left real humans speechless.
To his credit, characterizations are realistic and engaging, this graphic novel actually reads like a novel, and the author (who shows great promise; watch this guy) shies away from graphic violent, profanity and the sexual innuendo that many writers think makes their work "mature." Hurrah!!
The reality-based art starts on the high end of excellent and ends a bit sloppy. As a simple example, the team that travels into the super-collider wears radiation contamination suits that start as tight fits on tight bodies and end as loose and ill-fitting on ladies who suddenly "got back," i.e. large butts.
One should remember that good is certainly not bad, and Para is recommended for a pleasant read on a long, winter's afternoon.
by Michael Vance