Paragon #2 continues the story of Ben, a young man who, in Issue #1, slipped into an alternate reality in response to his depression from his father’s death. He struggles to cope with renting a room from the new reality’s version of his father and suffers strange side effects from his months of participating in drug trials. At the same time, Ben begins to heal a little by talking about his father’s death with his new landlord.
I’m not quite sure what I anticipated from Paragon #2 based on the description, but I never expected this issue to be a platform for calling out unnatural additives in our foods. While I definitely think that food additives are a valid concern, the first issue showed Ben transitioning into a dysfunctional superhero who seemed to be redeeming himself by saving the innocent in his less idyllic surroundings. I also incorrectly assumed that the toxic chemicals mentioned on the cover referred to the host of experimental drugs Ben ingested when he first arrived in the new reality; in fact, the creators appear to be referencing petroleum by-products that regularly show up in processed foods. Unfortunately, the story takes a back seat to Ben’s discovery of his ability to sense the purity of foods, the air, and his general surroundings, and I chafed a little at the thin plot; however, later issues may blend the two sides of the comic together more seamlessly to present a tale that is fun and has an important message.
While I felt disappointed in the plot of Paragon #2, I was extremely impressed with Gilbert Dudley’s art work throughout the issue. At first glance, it seemed simplistic and a little flat, but when I looked more closely, the delicate line work in each drawing began to jump out. Mary Brigid Gillett, the colorist, played up to it by using a technique that resembled water colors or even markers to flow over the lines without blurring them out entirely. The majority of the pages are simply blues and grays, but it fits Ben’s dystopian view of the surrounding world perfectly.
I’m not a huge fan of stories with less than subtle messages, so I overall was disappointed with Paragon #2. However, it’s a well-crafted piece that does the job its creators intended, so if you have a higher tolerance for meaningful works than I do you should definitely check it out! The artwork alone is worth the cover price.
3.5 Horrible Reactions to Environmental Toxins out of 5