ADVANCE PREVIEW: One Is The Loneliest Number

DISCORD  (AAM / MARKOSIA, Original Graphic Novel, August 2011 release)  Paul J. Salamoff, writer.  Giuseppe D’Elia, artist.   

With DISCORD, writer Paul J. Salamoff makes use of  two genres familiar to comics (super-hero teams and space adventures) and puts a unique and creative spin on them.    DISCORD deals with alterations, modifications,and enhancements  to the human body in a manner that goes beyond all those science fiction stories we may have read about clones, cyborgs, androids, bio-science and genetic engineering.  At its’ core, DISCORD shines a spotlight on concepts of self, identity, purpose in life and the struggle to achieve harmony.   I’ve seen a two-chapter preview of this upcoming graphic novel and plan to add DISCORD to my order list for August 2011.

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Wander outside your familiar surroundings for a moment and imagine these events:  You are off the beaten path and traveling with a group in a very remote area when a serious accident occurs.  You are unconscious, severely injured, and the sole survivor of the trip.  Immediate and complicated surgery is mandatory for you to continue living.  Those who find you are not medical professionals, but true novices.  They do their best to keep you alive but they don’t fully understand who or what you are.   When you finally regain consciousness and awaken you don’t even recognize yourself.  You have been altered, down to your very core.  You question who you are,  your very essence, and struggle to grasp how you move forward from this point on.  You return to your home and memories of love, friendship and family.  You hope to find understanding, compassion, help and guidance in your new life.  Will you be accepted or rejected?

You are Chromatic (an appropriate and prophetic name), leader of the super-hero Team War Hammer.  Following a battle on a space station with super-villain Sinew, your team crash-landed their transport on an unknown planet where it exploded in a fiery mass of body parts, metal and plastic.   The sentient alien life forms pulled some of your anatomy from the wreckage.  After studying the data on the ship computers they attempt to resurrect you using whatever material they can salvage.  You come to life after being patched together like a future version of mad scientist Victor Frankenstein’s creation.   You will carry memories of your fellow team members with you forever - - - because you are wearing them. Every time you look in a mirror you will get a reminder.  You also seem to have the same super powers as your team did and will need to adjust and adapt to use them properly. 

In the written introduction to DISCORD,  highly respected writer/creator/editor Mark Waid calls DISCORD  “a very clever twist on standard superhero tropes . . . . . a story of optimism cloaked in dread and terror.”  He goes on to praise it:  “Moreover, I could easily see where Paul and Giuseppe could use it as a platform to say some very subtle and clever things about personal identity, loyalty and camaraderie.” 

I could go on to describe the first two chapters and the written synopsis of the next few chapters in detail, highlighting some of the key points and scenes that moved and delighted me.  I’d rather not spoil it for those of you who are going to pick up this book.  You will find that Salamoff also does a fine job with superhero team creation and quickly familiarizes the readers with some of their quirks and personal behavior.  This just helps readers understand the level of grief that Chromatic must be experiencing as he walks through life carrying these memories like  personal baggage.  D’Elia’s art style is equally remarkable and he seems to get the essence of what the writer wants to convey.   Salamoff and D’Elia are very subtle  (as Waid observed).  Rather than hit you over the head to make their points, they detail and illustrate the scene and sometimes leave the rest to the reader.  Rather than state exactly and in great detail everything the characters must be feeling and thinking, they leave a lot of it up to interpretation and the reader’s imagination.  Imagination is a very powerful thing.

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