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‘Paragon 1A and 1B:’ Comic Book Review (A Tale of Two Worlds)

Ben Byrne came from a perfect world. One where the politicians are paid minimum wage while the teachers make a hundred grand a year. A world where there are no homeless and no sick. But, when Ben's father dies, Ben is left broken and depressed in a world where the idea of grief or tragedy makes no sense. That's when Ben crossed over into our world with all of its many flaws. A world where Ben can make a difference.

Paragon is a superhero comic series by the Superhero Network Entertainment Group. Focused on these parallel worlds and the idea of what our society could be, Paragon dives into political and social commentary early on, and I kind of love it for that. Ben's story is both heartbreaking and touching as he struggles with depression, poverty, and tries to understand our world.

You've got to be wondering by now what the difference is between the 1A and 1B issues. They're the same story, but 1A is an expository telling with art by Godfrey Mawema, while 1B is a narrative version with art by Gilbert Dudley. Both styles have their merits depending on what you're looking for in a comic, but 1B with its narrative style was my preferred telling and here's why. Both art styles make heavy use of blue as a dominate color, but whereas 1A is completely blue, 1B incorporates blacks and greys which I found easier to distinguish and more detailed. It's so appropriate that blue is an important color. At the heart of this story is Ben's depression and struggles to connect with somebody or something. He doesn't see the world, either his or ours, quite right.

Overall, Paragon could benefit from more distinct panel lines and simpler fonts for ease of reading, but, of the two versions, 1B's use of orange narrative boxes, mostly clearer fonts, and a variety of colors added a lot to my reading of the story. Dudley's art is great, if at times inconsistent, but his art does a brilliant job of providing a means to understand Ben. There's a panel in the book that's of Ben crying, and he's in such obvious emotional pain that it hit me hard.

1A and 1B also vary on the narrative, both written by Paul Jamison. 1A favors a third person, more poetic narrative and no dialogue. This version's language is crammed full of detail, going beyond the story presented. 1B simplifies this language, narrowing the focus to Ben and switching to first person. It's that change that makes 1B my version of Paragon. I got into Ben's head and came to relate with him more from the change of perspective. I have a better handle on him and want to follow his story. If you'd like to be thorough, I recommend reading both versions, though I'd suggest reading 1B first for the narrower focus and then 1A for the wider and more detailed view.

If you're wondering where the superpowers are, they're there, but Paragon 1A and 1B are an origin story, and what's far more important than what Ben can do is who Ben is behind the mask.

Four Experimental Super Drugs out of Five

Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2018 22:48

Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor

Favorite Comic Book SeriesAtomic Robo
Favorite D&D Class:  Wizard
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Cookies N' Cream

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