We’ve all seen, or know something about “Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, right? We appreciate that getting lost in space is not a very good idea. Imagine if you’re a goofy teenager thrown in with a bunch of other teens in some space station that has apparently lost its way and is just drifting out in space. That’s what we first see in this new comic, “Pariah,” story by Aron Warner and Philip Gelatt, art and lettering by Brett Weldele, published by Dark Horse Comics. There’s not even a hint of the glamour of Bullock and Clooney, not by a long shot. This is gritty, sweaty, stuff, more like “Lord of the Flies.”
We begin with our narrator, by default, Herman Toulane, who prefers be left alone. In his view of things, the whole gang would be much better off never returning to Earth. But, don’t you know, the consensus is to go with tradition and, when lost in space, seek a way back to Mother Earth. The kids are going to try to make it home. Herman can only sigh. Lila, is of a different mind. She has wrested control from the one natural leader, Hyde. He’s now been locked up somewhere. She commands Marks to be the ship’s engineer. He reports back that all systems are not go and they are pretty much doomed. Not good enough, for Lila, and so they trudge onward.
The artwork by Brett Weldele goes a long way to evoke the tension felt by all the characters. It’s not enough that no one seems to like each other. Much like in the movie, “Gravity,” you have a bad situation creeping toward a level of terror. The characters and setting are all rendered in a quick, yet very clean, sketch-like style. This simple and elegant style leaves you with just the basics and adds to the existential crisis. We don’t know much about any of the characters. We are relying on insolent and anti-social Herman to fill us in. He says he thought it was a good idea to give up and join The Vitros until he concluded it wasn’t a good idea. Herman, by the way, pretty much blends in with the rest of the kids. It’s a case of a fevered little batch of humanity scrambling to survive. Well, it turns out they’re human GMOs so, they’re basically human. They certainly act like it.
If Lila can take a stand, so can the others, and, bit by bit, we see some very interesting developments. PARIAH strikes out on a distinctive path with a ragtag group of kids too smart for their own good who must fight for their lives. This is quirky, intelligent, and outright fun sci-fi. This is a comic anyone can rally around.
Heroes. Yes, there’s a good chance they will emerge. I’d keep an eye out for that. Just when you think these kids are toast, maybe being genetically engineered geniuses does count for something.
PARIAH was created by Academy Award-winning producer Aron Warner (SHREK) with art by Eisner-nominated painter Brett Weldele (THE SURROGATES), and written by Philip Gelatt (PETROGRAD). PARIAH is available as of February 26, it is 32 pages, priced at $3.99. For more details on single issues, see our friends at Dark Horse Comics here.
You can enjoy this series, issue by issue, or get on board with a collected trade edition of the first four issues of this twelve-part series. For the collected trade of Volume One, look here. And for more information, go to Aron Warner’s PARIAH website here.