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Dustin Weaver is a One-Man Imagination Machine in Paklis #1

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Dustin Weaver is a One-Man Imagination Machine in <i>Paklis</i> #1

Writer/Artist: Dustin Weaver
Publisher: Image Comics 
Release Date: May 31, 2017

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Anthology comics seem to be making a comeback, thanks to the creatively loaded Cinema Purgatorio, the excellent (and already missed) Island, the consistently high-quality Dark Horse Presents and the revitalized Heavy Metal. But a new anthology comic turns the concept inside out: Paklis features several unrelated stories, but only one creator—writer/artist Dustin Weaver. The first issue includes one complete story and two ongoing tales, and it’s a promising start.

The first story, “Mushroom Bodies,” is going to be described as “Kafka-esque” by every single person who talks or writes about it, but I can’t think of a better word: it’s about a dude named Greg who feels like he—and worse, his girlfriend—are turning into bugs. In fact, everyone is turning into bugs in this creepy, grotesque, mesmerizing tale.

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Paklis #1 Interior Art by Dustin Weaver

“Mushroom Bodies,” according to a brief author’s note, is based on a dream of Weaver’s that he’s been trying to capture for years. The results pay off big. It feels like a story that needed time to percolate and has finally found its proper form. It’s also a super-creepy look at relationships. Weaver’s detailed figures and shifting perspectives ramp up the horror, and his colors are particularly effective, as he uses darker purples and blues to highlight the rising terror of the story.

Relationships dominate the other two entries, which are both sci-fi sagas that will continue in future issues: the two-page snippet of “Sagittarius A” and the longer first chapter of “Amnia Cycle.” These stories bring familiar topics into space: daddy issues (specifically cyborg daddy issues) drive “Sagittarius A” and a romantic breakup propels “Amnia Cycle.”

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Paklis #1 Interior Art by Dustin Weaver

It’s easier to judge “Amnia Cycle” at this point. Without getting too lost in backstory, Weaver has created an engrossing situation involving mental manipulation by a prophetic alien (the title character) leading to a trippy, off-the-grid rescue mission. That story, like the whole series, is full of possibilities.

Overall, this is an impressive first issue with consistently exquisite, ethereal art. Hopefully Weaver will continue to find a balance between ongoing and one-and-done stories, while keeping plenty of Lynchian looniness in the mix. Weaver’s art is always a pleasure, and his stories are at their best when things get weird.

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Paklis #1 Interior Art by Dustin Weaver

Mark Peters is the author of Bullshit: A Lexicon. Follow him on Twitter.

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