PROJECT: PATRON, ISSUE #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Illustrator: Patrick Piazzalunga
WHAT IS IT?
A superhero story— with a twist! The world’s savior loses a fierce battle, but the UN refuses to let The Patron’s legacy end in death.
An all-star superhero bearing striking similarities to the Death of Superman story meets the fraudulent fate and return of hero Metro Man in Megamind.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In a shocking moment, the world saw their beloved superhero from an alternate dimension, The Patron, die at the hands of his greatest foe, Woe. But the fears of Earth's citizens were quickly assuaged after The Patron re-emerged again seemingly unscathed. The protector of the planet returned as expediently as he disappeared.
Thirty years later, The Patron continues to defend the world while remaining elusive from the public eye. Seeds of doubt about The Patron's authenticity have begun to grow roots in the minds of his biggest fans. What the public doesn't know is that The Patron was resurrected -- in the form of a Reploid controlled by multiple human pilots working in tandem with the UN.
Can the Project: Patron team keep the world's greatest superhero android identity a secret? Will internal circumstances fracture the façade of the Patron Reploid?
Steve Orlando pays homage to DC's Death of Superman comic story in the opening sequences, immediately generating an aura of nostalgia. Beyond this sentimentality, Orlando's Project Patron #1 dissects the anatomy of the word "superhero" and the multifaceted parts that contribute to the idea of "heroism."
Patrick Piazzalunga's classic superhero comic art style supplements the atmosphere of familiarity Orlando's dialogue presents with aplomb.
Carlos Lopez's saturated colors and Piazzalunga's illustrations work dichotomously, essentially setting and shifting the tone with mood-evoking hues.
The lettering done by Thomas Mauer assembles thick, rounded letters together in a fashion that evinces the dialogue's gravity. Each word appears diegetic, with bolded words implying significance without appearing heavy-handed.
This bountiful first issue of Project: Patron deconstructs and addresses superhero tropes in the form of raising questions. Orlando's dialogue works to extract the why around subjects like humanity's obsession with heroes and the ultimate nature of how heroism affects all those involved.
Explorations of altruism and artificiality coincide with one another often. Smartly, these concepts first surface when news reporters question the Patron Reploid, providing humorous moments of levity to an otherwise serious comic.
Pilots navigate ethics, relationship/work dynamics, and face their own mortality as piloting the Patron Reploid takes years off their life span. Therefore, Orlando ensures that each interaction or interior monologue the pilot characters engage in contain substance that feels both authentic and organic.
Piazzalunga and Lopez's linework and shadow placement render the issue like a dark comic book film adaptation. All panels exude cinematic qualities and visually demonstrate the mercurial time period shifts.
Subtleties reign supreme in this comic. When readers see Nadia Ketz, a woman in the Science division of the program, holographic imagery with just enough detail and vivid color choices surrounds her to allude to the projects' clandestine nature. Orlando permits Nadia's dialogue to inform readers, but the semi-crude outlined images projected are nearly inscrutable -- purposefully.
Dialogue from a mysterious narrator appears in faded blue narration text boxes with a computerized font style. Mauer's lettering choices for this dialogue are paramount to the final reader epiphany you will experience when the narrator is finally revealed.
The comic narrative and art investigates psychological and physical tolls on the human body, technology, and humanitarianism amidst the backdrop of a superb superhero tale.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: The thematic material in Project: Patron #1 is mature, but accessible for most readers. I will issue a content warning for depictions of death, subtle gore and violence, and generally mature subject matters.
Some might find the beat-for-beat Death of Superman sequential story opener on-the-nose. I will mention how this is purposeful, and implore you to keep reading.
Readers are quickly introduced to a slew of characters. The cast introduction of protagonists is plentiful and swift, which may cause you to backtrack on a first read to recall a characters' name.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
I'm going to admit that Project: Patron #1 is my first and (so far) only introduction to Steve Orlando's writing, so this review is coming from a completely unbiased perspective. The preview pages alone probed my interest and anticipation for weeks before the release of issue #1. Project: Patron did not disappoint. It surpassed any expectations I had about the initial solicit concept.
Project: Patron puts ethos and pathos on full display, refusing to shy away from genre subversions or charismatic character work. Fundamental to Orlando's provocative dialogue is the tonal impact of Piazzalunga and Lopez's artistry. The entire issue flies you straight into a perception-challenging stratosphere. Project: Patron #1 barreled out of the gates with an intensity that leaves you contemplative, long after you yell at the last page for leaving you on a cliffhanger. Even after only one issue, Project: Patron seems like it's on a trajectory to resurrect your interest in the series each month.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Milk Wars: JLA/Doom Patrol Special by Steve Orlando, Gerard Way, Magdalene Visaggio
Martian Manhunter: Identity by Steve Orlando & Riley Rossmo
The Wrong Earth by Tom Peyer & Jamal Igle
If you like the art:
X-Factor Vol. 1 #200 by Peter David, Bing Cansino, Marco Santucci & Patrick Piazzalunga
Scout's Honor by David Pepose & Luca Casalanguida
Happy Hour by Peter Milligan & Michael Montenat
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Steve Orlando – Writer (@thesteveorlando)
Prolific: Steve is a comic book writer who has written for every major American comic publication, such as Marvel, DC, Image, BOOM!, Dynamite, IDW, AfterShock, and many more. He is best known for writing comics about famous characters Batman, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman.
Award Winner: He has been nominated and won several prolific awards. He won the 2015 Broken Frontier Award for Best New Series for Midnighter, the 2018 Tor Books Best Comics of 2018 for Martian Manhunter, and was nominated for the 2017 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book for Midnighter/Midnighter and Apollo.
Steve has been in the comic industry since 2000.
Patrick Piazzalunga – Illustrator (@Piaha86)
Patrick is a comic book artist, whose work as appeared in Sergio Bonelli Editore, Marvel, DC, Soleil Editions, and AfterShock comics.
Outlander: Hails from San Gimignano, Italy.
Carlos Lopez – Colorist (@co_carloslopez)
Carlos is a comic book colorist for Marvel and AfterShock Comics.
His work includes coloring for the M.O.D.O.K: Head Games comic miniseries and several of the recent X-Men comic line titles.
Outlander: Hails from Brazil.
Thomas Mauer – Letterer (@thomasmauer)
Multitalented: Thomas has worked as a comic book letterer, graphic designer, art director, and editor.
He has worked with AAM/Markosia, Archaia Studio Press, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Oni Press, and Silent Devil Inc.
Thomas has been involved in several Harvey and Eisner Award nominated and winning titles, including Image Comics’ POPGUN anthology series and the webcomic The Guns of Shadow Valley.
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All Project Patron characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Steve Orlando, AfterShock Comics, or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED