Prism Stalker Volume 1
Creator: Sloane Leon
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Logo Designer: Darius Ou
Review by Christoph Staffl
Prism Stalker is a sci-fi comic that tells the story of Vep. Forced to leave her planet, and seemingly her family behind, Vep works with other people of her species on an asteroid. I say “species” because I’m not entirely sure that she is human, even though she looks like one. On said asteroid, Vep’s people mine eggs for a hive in exchange for food and shelter.
As it turns out, Vep has vast resources she can pull from. Mostly acrobatic skills which allowed her to survive as long as she did. On the other hand, there might be something supernatural involved, but I am not entirely sure. Be that as it may, because she shows her abilities when she rescues a friend, her guardians send her off to an academy on another planet. In this academy, students are trained to become colonizers themselves. It is there that we learn of the existence of a certain force in this world. Everyone can learn to use this force, which allows them to manipulate their surroundings and the thoughts of others. Though similarities to Star Wars cannot be avoided, Prism Stalker comes with its own twists to make it original and unique.
Before I get to any criticism about the story and our hero’s journey, let me just say, that this is one of the most imaginative and original comics I have read in a very long time. From the design of the book, to the colors, to the world we are thrown into, everything is unique. Even the panel structure sometimes defies every common sense–and this is a good thing. This uniqueness is also true for the storytelling: we hardly get any exposition about what happened or who the characters are. We have to draw our own conclusions. One the one hand, this can be rewarding, because you have to make up in your own mind about the things happening. On the other hand, it can be frustrating, because at some point a little context would be welcomed.
For example, I know that Vep is a strong, determined character. She endures everything that is thrown at her by the teachers in the academy because she wants to help her family. But how she wants to do that or what her endgame really is? No idea. Helping her family is a too abstract goal to keep me engaged in the story. In addition to that, the teaching methods at the academy are basically torture. It is hard to watch Vep going through various stages of pain and torment. I am sure this was the goal of creator Sloane Leon. But without any tangible clues what she specifically wants to do with her new found abilities, it is just torture for the reader, too. At the end of the first arc, there are too many unanswered questions.
That being said, the artwork is phenomenal. Sometimes, when reading science-fiction stories that have different worlds and space-travel, there is some redundancy to it. A feeling that you have seen similar things before. Which is not bad. Tropes are a good thing if handled wisely. Yet, Sloane Leon does something so unique with the world she created, I am blown away. Every alien species seems to follow its own rules, and every creature has its own personality. The organic ways through which the characters travel from planet to planet are simply stunning, and I can’t wait to find out more about other worlds. What wonders may lie behind the next corner? Kudos to the creator for such an accomplishment.
The Verdict: Wait and see?
I honestly am not sure. Prism Stalker gives us a story which could only have been told in comic-book format, but I feel like there is something missing. Maybe a conclusion to be drawn from the first arc. As Anelise wrote in her review of the first issue, “this comic could very easily fall into the classic school-story pattern.” However, Sean was also right in saying about the second issue: “it’s compelling, complex, and thematically rich.” The truth lies somewhere in-between. I keep thinking about Prism Stalker and want to read it again sometime just so I can find more clues about the things going on in this incredible world. However, I would wait until volume two comes out. At this point, the story-arc feels incomplete, something a second volume could hopefully fix.