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Pariah, Vol. 1


Pariah, Vol. 1


PARIAH is primarily the story of four Vitros, teenagers enhanced with extraordinary mental gifts that make them "better" than normal people. They are smarter, capable of pushing the boundaries of science and technology, able to manipulate people and objects and ideas in ways that normal people simply cannot. It is about the fear and the otherness that these individuals feel as a result of possessing abilities that those normal people do not. More than that, though, PARIAH is the story of the different ways people deal with that otherness, that betterness, and how they all relate to the idea of normalcy when they are all deemed terrorists for being born different.

Brent Marks, the first of the characters introduced, wants to pass as normal, wants to be normal despite his enhanced skills and potential. Lila Ellerman wants to use her gifts for the betterment of everyone, to be a part of society but without having to hide or apologize for herself. Robert Maudsley believes that normal is lesser, that normal people exist to be manipulated into getting him what he wants. And Franklin Hyde wants only to be left alone, to be isolated from normal people in order to protect the Vitros from the normal people who seem to resent and hate them for what they are.

These characters each face their differentness in unique ways, and yet each is thrown into the same boat as the government rounds up the Vitros. There is a political angle to the story as well, as the government, or at least certain parties within the government, uses their abilities to label them enemies, uses their otherness to create political capital at the expense of human rights. It is an interesting look and critique of how governments tend to treat people who are different.

The art of the volume fits well with the grittiness of most of the story, the rather bleak place that these people find themselves in when the government comes after them for just being different. Scenes are scratchy and distorted, and everything has a slightly surreal feel to it. Faces retain a good amount of expression, though, and the characters each have a defined look that seems to fit into their role in the story. Brent is slouched and detached, Lila fierce and committed, Maudsley a little paunchy and creepy, Franklin uptight and arrogant. All of that comes across in the way they are portrayed, and it all works to create a cohesive whole.

This is, however, only the first volume of a larger story, and that comes across rather starkly. Not that it's a bad thing, but real revelations about how these different characters and their approaches to otherness are held back to be explored in later volumes, and instead what is given is a solid introduction that ends with a large shift in setting and story. It was a bit jarring to reach the ending and see where the story went, but as far as cliffhangers go, it definitely did the job of making the next volume seem important. And it did a good job of setting up who the characters are and how they view the world.

Reviewed by Charles Payseur on January 7, 2014

Pariah, Vol. 1
by Aron Warner, Philip Gelatt, and Brett Weldele

  • Publication Date: January 13, 2014
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse
  • ISBN-10: 1616552743
  • ISBN-13: 9781616552749