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By Jess Ward, Staff Writer

Comic books, for this reviewer, have been one of the most enjoyable ways to read from childhood to adulthood. Combining stunning and innovative art with complex and gripping narratives, comics give the reader heroes, villains, universes and adventures. They often present them in shades of gray; questions of morality and “the greater good” permeate the earliest superhero comics, beginning with “The Phantom,” a dark and innovative character, in 1936. Since then, superheroes and action comics have thrived, exploring every crevice of humanity. Sloane Leong’s Prism Stalker, Vol. 1 has undoubtedly tapped into that approach, telling a story both completely surreal and yet full of truths.

Prism Stalker, Vol. 1 is a trade paperback, or a collection of several comics into one publication. This volume includes the first five issues, and tell the story of an interplanetary refugee, Vep. The art alone is enough to make this piece a stand-out: bright and bold colors and fantastical world-creating at its best. She’s created various alien species, and the planet they’re on is full of texture. Every page is breathtaking, and Leong is truly a master of incorporating the physical and the abstract into one fluid scene.

Beyond the art, the narrative of Prism Stalker, Vol. 1 is science fiction to the extreme, while managing to be completely relevant to the reader’s reality. Vep has been displaced from her home planet, which is under “quarantine” after a terrorist attack. She fled at a young age, and grew up with her remaining family without learning their language.

Vep is then recruited to the Academy, a school run by the chorus, a collective that colonizes other planets where they deem life to be “less sentient.” From there, she must study alongside beings from all different corners of the universe, as they train to help fight indigenous uprisings against the chorus’ colony. Vep’s only hope to find a new land for her family and her people is to help colonize this planet, but will she be able to go through with it? This trade paperback ends in a cliffhanger, as most do, and it leaves you needing to know what happens next.

Prism Stalker, Vol. 1 encapsulates anxieties around identity, heritage, family and home. Vep is young and questions herself at every turn, and the reader is right there with her. Combining stunning visual representations of the self, memory and language, Leong’s work is unmatched. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes to read or look at beautiful art. There is something for everyone in this work, and personally, I can’t wait for volume two.

If you have any books you want to see reviewed, suggestions can be sent to [email protected]. For those who want to read along, I will be reviewing Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter next week.


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