Staff: Jeffrey Morris, Fredrick Haugen, Christopher Jones, and Dylan Hansen
Professional with a great premise.
So Parallel Man relies on the concept of the “multiverse”- a series of infinite (or near infinite) interconnected alternate universes just next door to each other. This is a concept very much steeped in the lore of American comics as this is the universal logic employed by most major publishers to tie their stories together. The premise of this comic is original- in the vastness of the multiverse one version of America developed the ability to jump to different realities and conquer them because they destroyed their own world. I’m sold on the premise and the cover art looks gorgeous so let’s jump in and see if it delivers!
The art is top notch. It is done in a style similar to that of most major publishers and doesn’t fail to impress. You guys know I’m something of an art snob- but this is done with a deep understanding of the medium. It’s in full color, uses dynamic angles, and it’s expressive. They have some very invocative imagery- a shattered Lincoln memorial implies a loss of freedom, Air Force One, and an alternatively colored american flag. Hey- they even got Obama in there for a bit and did a fair likeness of him.
I gotta say though, for all the high praise I am laying on this thing, when we finally get to see the universe-jumping military their appearance fails to impress. The big intro on page 9 just kind of looks like a line of very cookie cutter soldiers in generic “space soldier” style armor of the same height and build. Given the details on earlier pages, I was ready for some realistically diverse and very imaginative soldiers- not something that bland. However- that is about the only misstep in the creativity department (see the story section for more on that).
The lettering makes me envious. They do more than just your standard boxes and onomatopoeia. The text is legible, the onomatopoeia is creatively applied, and non-interruptive to the beautiful art. They use a variety of balloon and font styles, when appropriate, and it just adds to the already very professional appearance of the comic. Honestly- if I didn’t know better, I would assume that this was something produced by Marvel, DC, or Image.
There are some kind of over the top names for things like “hellfighters” and a lot of techno jargon that is meant to sound scientific, but overall the writing is a solid B+ or A-. It does its job and does its word building without giving us too bad of an exposition bomb (aided by the first page’s short introduction). The dialogue comes off as natural and does a great job handling such a weird premise.
When compared to the overall direction thus far- the worldbuilding is the shining gem. The premise works and is used to great effect. We are immersed in the world of the reality-hopping Nick Morgan and his sidekick, a computer program named Atlas.The various universes we get to see showcase the powerful imagination (both in an artistic and worldbuilding sense) that this team can bring. We see megalithic vehicles, crazy alien designs, mushroom forests, . They do rely on “science as magic” a bit heavily and kind of ham-handedly in the narrative sense (a “nanopatches fix everything” kind of setup) but I think it was done to keep the focus of the comic on the premise rather than the minor details. We get a slow-ish start with the real plot kicking in about half way through the first issue and don’t really get a full understanding of it until about 10 pages before the end. That’s not to say there is a pacing issue, more that they handle it pretty well. There is a bit of tonal shift near the end that I wasn’t so fond of, but it looks like it will set up some interesting character dynamics in later issues.
Overall, I dig it. It’s a solid premise with a lot of mileage in its premise. The first issue does a great job of setting up a lot of issues to come. This comic is about as professional as indies get- great art and some solid writing. I’m on-board with this one.
Art: 8/10 (Downright professional)
Lettering: 8/10 (Above and beyond)
Plot: 6/10 (Solid across the board)
Novelty: 10/10 (Gotta love this premise and the way they handle it!)
(They also have some other Parallel Man media like games and stuff on the site- totally worth a look.)