Created by: Philip Gelatt, Aaron Warner / Published by: Sea Lion Books / Format: Paperback / Release date: Out now
It is the year 2025, and techniques used to cure inherited illnesses have lead to a small percentage of the population being born as Vitros, human beings with abnormally high intelligence. This is the premise of Aaron Warner’s Pariah, a twelve part graphic novel written by Philip Gelatt and produced by Aaron Warner, the man who gave us Shrek.
This post-human fable avoids many of the obvious clichés and concentrates on a character driven story. Tales of humanities struggle with super human beings are nothing new to comic book readers, but Pariah is more of a science fiction story than another retread of The Watchmen. It explores how mankind copes when there are those amongst them who happen to be superhumanly smart, and examines how these geniuses respond when mankind does the inevitable and decides to deal with its hyper-evolved progeny.
It avoids going in the traditional directions, and dives headlong into drama. The story uses multiple character perspectives to explore the world, and takes its time with setting up the main characters, which are sympathetic and interesting, though not exactly likeable. Each Vitro sees themselves as an outsider, which immediately makes for drama and conflict. People who can design and build miracles of science are portrayed as being as potentially foolish and naive as anyone, and this seems to be one of the series ongoing themes.
Artist Brett Weldele brings a gritty and messy art style to this tale, which suits the grubby feel to the story. This is a world where mankind is deeply flawed, and in a story where super humans are just utterly un-heroic, Weldele’s wild style fits perfectly. The rough style also makes the book feel slightly like the story board for a motion picture, and the fact that many of the backgrounds are in either teal or orange doesn’t help either, as both colours are all too commonplace in Hollywood motion pictures.
Pariah is currently ongoing and takes till issue 4 to get into its stride. It is certainly a slow burning story, but an engaging one none the less.