No Freedom at Midnight: A review of Ram V and Dev Pramanik’s sci-fi comic series, Paradiso

Gautham Shenoy June 9, 2018 4 min

An event known only as the Midnight happened and left in its wake a broken world. A tryst with destiny that turned into a cataclysmic event causing the collapse of civilization as we know it. That was 332 years back ago, and now an everyman called Jack – haunted by the sketchy memories (and monsters) of his childhood, seeking answers – makes his way to the crumbling, living, sentient mega-city of Paradiso. All he has with him is a mysterious device capable of bringing dead technology back to life. Thus begins Volume 1, Paradiso: Essential Singularity, a trade paperback that collects issues #1-4 of this post-apocalyptic science fiction comic series.

The cover of the Paradiso: Essential Singularity TPB.

It is not often you see good science fiction from Indian comic creators. And almost never, to see a trade paperback from Image Comics bearing the name of three Indians on its cover, as Paradiso does: Ram V, the writer, artist Dev Pramanik, and letterer Aditya Bidikar. There is a fourth name too, Dearbhla Kelly who did the fabulous colours for this comic book. Ram V is a familiar name for Indian comic book readers having worked on Holy Cow’s Aghori with Vivek Goel, and Black Mumba, the noir comic set in Mumbai that also featured Pramanik and Bidikar. Together with Kelly, these three put their best foot forward with Paradiso to deliver an engaging and enjoyable narrative in its first arc. As fully formed as the world of Paradiso is, one suspects that the creators have barely begun to scratch the surface of the larger story, and even with all that happens in Volume 1, have given us but a peek, albeit detailed, of what’s in store.

Covers of Paradiso issues #1 & 2 (collected in Paradiso: Essential Singularity along with issues #3&4)

Cyborgs, survivors and scavengers, crime lords and creeps, a pair of bionic Guardians you will root for, a strange steampunkish Watcher, Paradiso: Essential Singularity has it all in an engaging plot as each of the many groups and people are after Jack for the one precious thing that he carries. But most of all, it is Paradiso herself who looms over all the other characters. Moody, shifting, changing, looking for something, protecting herself and the people who live within her, as much as the people who live in this last bastion of humanity try to understand her and keep Paradiso the way she wants to be. And once Jack enters Paradiso, he finds himself banded together with battle-hardened companions who aren’t quite what they seem, as together they set forth to seek some answers, with a little help from the city herself.

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A comic book recommended for anyone interested in gripping graphic narratives or sci-fi adventures, it is especially recommended for sci-fi fans who will enjoy it more so for the influences from sci-fi classics that Paradiso exhibits, weaved cleverly into the writing or the gorgeous art. While some sequence give out Mad Max vibes, at other times you catch a glimpse of Westworld’s influence, of Akira and Neuromancer, and more including of course Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. The loveliest touch of all – for me – was to name a companion of Jack, Vance. Don’t bother if you’re not familiar with any of these because Paradiso stands tall on its own strengths: good writing and great art including some fine action sequences.

Covers of Paradiso issues #3 & 4 (collected in Paradiso: Essential Singularity)

Paradiso Volume 1 is a self-contained arc, but what it does best is to act as a doorway into a world you’d really like to know more about. What was the event known as Midnight? What role did the worldwide geostream built on a system called Kronos that connected all data from every quantifiable source play in the cataclysm? Will Paradiso – and Jack – find what they’re after? I for one, am eager to find out.

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And speaking of eager, if you’re thinking Paradiso sounds like something you’d like to start reading right away, we’ve got you covered. Here is the link to Paradiso’s issue #1, courtesy Comic Beats’ Free Comic Friday and Image Comics. Happy reading! And once you’re done, share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #NWWonFD on Twitter or using the comments sections below.

On that note, I bid you goodbye until next week when I hope to see you here again for the 97th edition of New Worlds Weekly, only on FactorDaily.

Live long and prosper!


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