Paklis #1, Dustin Weaver’s newest debut, is an anthology-style issue that packs in three individual stories ranging from science fiction to body horror. Is it good?
Writer/Artist: Dustin Weaver
Publisher: Image Comics
In a way, Paklis #1 feels like the indie corner of the comic shop has found its way onto the big stage. While Image is an outlet for creators, to see an anthology title written and illustrated by a single artist released at this level of publishing feels a bit out of the ordinary (in a good way). Created by Dustin Weaver, Paklis #1 packages together three different stories held together by themes of identity and dreams.
The first segment of the issue, “Mushroom People,” is perhaps the issue’s most bizarre and attention-grabbing. In it, a young man begins to struggle with his own identity as he alternatively sees his fiance and himself as cockroaches. There’s a good deal of body horror that Weaver introduces here, and the layered identity crises adds a good thematic weight to what otherwise might have been an acid trip of a story.
The middle story, “Sagittarius A*” is also the briefest, taking only a few pages. Weaver tells the story by rotating the pages so that the vertical edges of the book are now the horizontal edges of the story. Weaver’s artwork here is spectacular, using what might be erroneously called black-and-white, but what really amounts to a wonderful use of grays to create a classic feel to the story, as if one just happened to run across an old film serial.
Rounding out the trio is “Amnia Cycle” a science fiction tale about a young pilot and the aliens she discovers. For this story, Weaver employs a looser line stroke, giving a frenetic, sketch-like quality to the story that really helps build the tension and excitement. “Amnia Cycle” is the most easily accessible of the three stories, and it will be interesting to see how Weaver continues it.
Is It Good?
While at times Paklis #1 can feel a bit esoteric and self-indulgent, it never veers into pretentiousness. Weaver is open about his struggles over the years with bringing the “Mushroom Bodies” segment to life, and when reading the story with that added context, it adds another layer of enjoyment to the story. The fact that it is just Dustin Weaver on the book also gives it a personal feel, as if reading a poetry chapbook, or being given a private look at a sketchbook. Some readers may find that intimacy off-putting, but it’s nice to see Weaver put himself out there.
Each piece of Paklis is enjoyable in its own right, but it is the total experience of reading the issue in one sitting that really sells the book, providing a revealing peek into the imagination of the artist behind the pages. Though some of Paklis #1’s appeal is certainly due to its uniqueness, the effort Weaver has put into the book pays off and provides a great value for science fiction readers.