Why hello there Comic Booked fans, do I have an interesting tale for you today. Landing in my inbox was a review copy of Pariah, a new series from the Oscar winning producer, Aron Warner. Warner is known for the box office smash hit series Shrek, so my expectations were a little skewed, thinking I was getting into a kids title. Luckily I was dead wrong.
We start with issue #2, and it immediately jumps into the story. We follow Lila Ellerman, a 16 year old girl on the run from an elite Black-Ops team. The year is 2025, and Lila and a group of teenagers are hiding in the woods. The teens are being hunted because they are not normal teens, they are Vitros. Vitros are basically your super genius kids, think of a mix between Stephen Hawkings and Reed Richards, only teenagers. The kids are camped out, Lila, Brandon, her pseudo boyfriend, Neil a tech guru, and Sam, a hot headed guy who wants to take the reins of power, as well as a few others. Their camp is raided and they have no choice but to fight back, causing some impressive explosions. They retreat further in the woods.
We flashback to a week ago where the teens are performing experiments on dark matter and of course like with every great story, something goes wrong. Horribly wrong. A freak accident occurs and the government blames the Vitros for the atrocities, who didn’t see that coming, am I right? As they panic and flee, they research the experiment and learn that it was for a biological weapon, authorized by Lila. She is not happy at this reveal.
Back at their camp, Lila does what she does best and controls the situation, throws a party in the woods. The best way to keep teenagers in control, have them lose it. While they drink and party, Lila has them compete to get an untraceable signal for internet access. Neil is the victor, and they learn that Vitros are being hunted down all over the country. This sparks outrage in Sam, who questions Lila’s methods. They get into a heated argument and Sam mentions Maudsley a borderline, criminally insane psychotic. They end the argument and she sends Sam out to monitor the perimeter. In the morning a strange man approaches their camp, demanding to speak to Lila. They have a discussion about Vitros, and trees. The man is Franklin Hyde and he warns her that the Black Ops team is coming and coming fast for them. Unless she surrenders her team over things are going to get ugly.
Issue #3 kicks in with an introduction to Robert Maudsley, flashback two years before the accident at Marinus Labs. We see Maudsley as a sociopath teenager who is a manipulative mastermind, who plays people as pawns for his own amusement. He talks a guy out of his lunch and into fighting some random person, just so he can have some entertainment while he eats.
A year later and see Maudsley watching TV, enjoying his latest experiment in the human condition. He talks four people into attending a bank, a married couple and a random guy, both planning on robbing the bank, and armed, and a fourth guy, a racist nut job who is just making a deposit who is also carrying a piece. Of course it goes all according to Maudsley’s plan, which his plan is to see the people stoop to the lowest spot in human depravity.
We see Maudsley as a young boy, even then he was smarter than almost everyone else he came across, including his psychiatrist who could not break his barrier. We see his interaction with his parents, simpletons compared to Maudsley, and he resents them for that. They try to talk him into a TV deal so he abandons them.
Now back to the present! We see him plotting his next challenge, turning the city into a giant cauldron of hate and violence. He just needs the right tipping point, should be relatively easy for a super genius, but one thing he didn’t count on- a report hitting the news, broadcasting his intentions. The report was filed as if he had sent it in. This angers him greatly. he runs into Mr. Hyde, who gives him a generous proposal, one that could change the fate of Vitros forever, he thinks very carefully over this decision.
Pariah takes a standard plot device and sends it into a new direction. There have been numerous stories of governments and big corporations framing groups of people for accidents and virus outbreaks but the spin is we have a group of uber-geniuses who can out think the people hunting them. We get characters who have definite social issues. The writing is very well done, written by Warner and Phil Gelatt, they weave a very interesting story. One moment we see the kids handling calculations I’ve never heard of, the next they are acting like horny teenagers. The artwork is equally as unique. At first it was off putting, a lot of shadowing is used in the book. It gives it a very interesting look. The look really works with the story, and Brett Weldele draws a really good action scene.
I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece series yet, but we are only into issue 3, I will definitely keep on eye out for this one, could be a good time. The book is published by Sea Lion Books.