It seem everyone wants to ride in Paradiso, but not everyone can, in this post-apocalyptic series from writer Ram V, artist Dev Pramanik, colourist Dearbhla Kelly, and letterer Aditya Bidika who had, mostly, previously worked together on another comic set in another busy, crowded city of Mumbai in Black Mumba.
I say ‘mostly’, as Black Mumba, an Indian crime-noir anthology is black and white and so required no colouring, but mention this GN in passing as it would seem Ram has a taste for the crowded streets and multifaceted faces and lives of such busy, busy and broken cities. And, in Paradiso, he explores this concept again; cities and their characters, their heart and their soul.
Enter one Jack Kryznan, a man wishing to seek safe passage into the almost fabled, yet real, city of Paradiso. All around him are the kind of desperate waifs and strays you’d expect in a world that has fallen off the cliff face; where people can barely remember everyday technology we take for granted, such as basic public transport. As such, technology is carefully guarded and hungrily sought and it would seem our hero, Jack Kryznan, has something people want after fixing a child’s toy innocently one night while seeking shelter at Aquarius Point, making him a marked man. A place with it’s own kind of ‘wretched hive of scum and villainy’ as well as a plethora of the world’s washed up and washed out. A real melting pot of people.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to two bad-ass cyborg protectors of Paradiso, Mr. Dandy and Mr. Honeybad who, for some reason (maybe its the names and the way they refer to each other so formally) reminded me instantly of Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd from Diamonds Are Forever, but bigger and badder thanks to their technological enhancements and, in the case of Mr Honeybad, his gargantuan frame.
In the hands of artist Dev Pramanik and colourist Dearbhla Kelly, Paradiso, Aquarius Point and the surrounding wasted world are given life, albeit a rusty, depleted life that’s an appropriate backdrop for this series. Pramanik, with something of Ivan Reis about his delicate, detailed line work, gives a textured and roughness to the art that gives this future world a well worn, lived in feel with Kelly providing rusty, corroded colours that complement the art and develop a sustained mise-en-scene to the whole book.
Clearly, the city of Paradiso is more than just the title of this sci-fi series, and already shows slight signs of sentient life. Cities do have their own character, their own feel. As it stands, Paradiso as a city is both a monolithic reminder of a past world of commerce and free markets that is now lost as well as something more. What that role will be, no doubt, should be explored in subsequent issues.
There are no easy routes to Paradiso and there is always someone to barter with along the way. But, Jack does get to Paradiso, only that’s just the start of this story. With the technology he is supposedly carrying, he’s a marked man. Even if he doesn’t know that yet. Can someone tell him maybe? Otherwise, I can’t imagine this being an easy ride for him. Not in this rusty, dystopian domain.
Paradiso #1 is out in December from Image Comics with Final Order Cut-Off being today, Monday the 13th of November, so get your orders in!