PRISM STALKER #1 by Sloane Leong
Writer/artist Sloane Leong brings us to a stunning new world that is as visually captivating as it is horrifying. Her character work is impressive, as her use of color. But even though this looks like a world far from our own, the story that is just starting to be told here is one that will hit home for many people -- one that needs to be told.
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Bizarre But Real

It’s not always easy to pull readers into a totally new concept. You have to familiarize them with a cast of characters and a kernel of a plot, while also acclimating them to an entirely new environment. It’s a hard balance to strike, but PRISM STALKER #1 strikes it. Hard.

However, it is definitely the kind of book you’re going to need to read a couple times just to ground yourself. It’s not like stepping into the world of BATMAN or SPIDER-MAN, where we know the rules. We need to learn how this world works. Even so, it’s very enjoyable the first time around.

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Impressive Character Construction

Slowly yet brilliantly, writer and artist Sloane Leong introduces us to our main character, Vep. She’s a refugee sequestered from her family and forced to work for an alien race called the Sverans. (More on them in a moment.)  Vep shows off her bravery one day by risking injury to save her friend (or possibly her sister — their relationship not completely clear), Mirem.

All of these young refugees have similar hair, skin, and clothes, but that’s clearly the intention. It makes sense that these Sverans would want their servants to default to a hive mind. But even though these characters are clearly meant to look similar, they’re easily identifiable individuals because of Leong’s excellent character work right off the bat. She gave each of these characters distinct personalities and motivations, which is so difficult for a first issue.

Courtesy of Image Comics

We don’t know much about the elder refugees because they aren’t present in many panels. They are spiritual and speak a different language than their younger relatives, but that’s the extent of our experience. We only really know them from Vep’s point of view. But because they’re important to her, they matter to us. There is a deep love and affection here, despite an effort made by the Sverans to build a divide between generations.

The Sverans don’t exactly have unique personalities (save one), but they are visually striking. Just one snarl could send shivers down a reader’s spine. They are despicable. And to have that effect in only a few pages is an accomplishment.

There isn’t much room here to show us how deep these characters go, but they’re definitely intriguing. We’ve invested, even though we may not know exactly why yet. These pages definitely set the tone for great character work in the future.

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Captivating Colors in PRISM STALKER #1

The art in PRISM STALKER #1 is all wonderful, but Leong’s color work is just sensational. Pinks, purples, and yellows are especially prominent here, creating a world and characters that instantly transport you to another plane of existence. This is absolutely the kind of book that you’ll just want to pick up and look at from time to time.

It probably will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this art has the potential to make this book really iconic. It’s surrealist, it’s alien, and it’s pleasing to the eye.

Courtesy of Image Comics

And Important Idea

This first issue takes place on an asteroid in what we can assume is the future. Since this isn’t taking place in our solar system (or so it would seem) we have no real sense of timing. But that frees Leong up to bring us something wholly original and special.

There’s a lot happening here to set the groundwork for a great story, but it hasn’t quite started yet. Leong does a great job of prepping us for a wild ride, but we’re only just peaking over the first drop of the roller coaster by the final panels.

Yet we can already tell that in this fantastical world she’s created, Leong’s doing something incredibly poignant. PRISM STALKER #1 is the story of a refugee and a slave. In the politically tumultuous time we’re living in, this is clearly an important story to tell. It may look bizarre, but it is also incredibly real.

Whether it’s happening in space, on the other side of the world, or down the street from you, this is a human story we’ve heard before. It’s a story we know. That doesn’t make it old news — it makes it part of the human experience. We need more human stories that say something of value. It’s clear even in this first issue that this is going to be one of those stories.

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Looking Forward to Issue #2

The telltale sign of a great first issue is the desire to read the second issue immediately. You know when a book hooks you. It’s an unmistakable feeling. It’s that voice in the back of your head that says, “Well, damn. Time to add another title to my pull list. Sorry, wallet.”

PRISM STALKER #1 is going to do that to you. And you’re gonna be pleased about it.

PRISM STALKER #1 comes out March 7, 2018.

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