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Monday, January 8, 2018

Paranoia (6 Issue series Graphic Novel)

By Paul O'Connor(writer) & Hector (Artist)

Published by Adventure Comics (1992)

Six individual issues, 120 pages total

Finished 1/7/2018

My Comic Shop.com Listing







          “The computer exists only to make you happy. Yet you are unhappy. Hence you must be unhappy because it makes you unhappy to be unhappy. If you are unhappy, then the computer is unhappy. No one who loved the computer would want to make it unhappy. Thus, you must hate the computer.”
This is a little different from what I usually review as this is not a book but a limited series comic, but I felt it was so outstanding that I decided to review it. The comic has never been reprinted to collected into a trade paperback, but the link for individual issues is above for those who are interested.
          This comic is based on the tabletop RPG of the same name, published (at the time) by West End Games. These issues were produced in the early 90s when pen-and-paper RPGs were at the top of their game and people flocked to them. When you said you were a gamer, this is what you meant. This was well before video games became so good. Doom had only recently emerged to change the scape of games.

          Paranoia the game was (and is) a campy take on the entire RPG series. The game had humorous tendencies, but also contained a bizarre viciousness underneath. A player had six clones of his character and had to navigate a world gone mad, wherein the person running the game was encouraged to ignore the rules and destroy the players as quickly as he could. In a sense it was a science fiction survival comedy game- first of its kind.
          The setting is in Alpha Complex, a giant self-contained dome city (here located over San Francisco) some undetermined time after a nuclear war. Alpha Complex is run by a malfunctioning computer who had certain guidelines installed that conflicted with other guidelines, leading to the mess that is the current society. The city’s citizens are grown in vats, cloned in groups of six, and only one clone is allowed out at a time. Citizens are ranked on the rainbow spectrum of ROY G. BIV (red, orange, yellow, etc.). The computer is their god.
Happiness is mandatory. Anyone who is unhappy must be a communist and is committing treason. Treason is punishable by death. Being a mutant is treason, but everyone is a mutant. Being a member of a secret society is treason, but everyone’s a member of a society. Anyone can turn a person in if they suspect them of treason. In fact, not turning them in is treason. As you can see, the title, Paranoia, is well chosen.

          The writer and artist played this setting exactly right. There is no tongue-in-cheek ha-ha humor here. The setting and the characters in it are taken as deadly serious. While there is humor, it is dark and sinister. The artist and writer take their job seriously and create the best story the setting could allow. In fact, I would say that the material is much better than their source (certainly the art). Each issue deals with one of the six clones of King-R-THR (The middle digit refers to their rank- as in red. And the last three is the section where they dwell). It is insane, brutal, and ultimately has a heartbreaking ending. Bravo. I wish I could more from these two.
          This was published by a small imprint called Adventure Comics. Originally named Adventure Publication, the company was bought out as an imprint for Malibu Comics. It was then relegated to publishing only licensed properties, such as the one above. 

Once upon a time Malibu and its superhero Ultraverse once gave the big boys a run for their money. It had several imprints Aircel and Eternity, along with Adventure. Eventually all of the imprints were bought up by Marvel and then disbanded a few years later during the mid-90s comics crash, when we all got sick of being pumped with substandard material.










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