While the seven deadly sins come from the Bible, and the story of Pandora’s Box appears in Greek mythology, they both cover the same ground – the mess that humankind is always only one short step away from. Alcante’s Pandora’s Box takes influence from both of these on a thematic level, but brings the evil that men do hurtling into the present, with a particular focus on modern technology. In this first of eight books, Pride, the target is human cloning, perhaps through the horrific actions of the doctor who will stop at nothing to see his cloning experiments brought to light, and a corrupt politician who will let nothing stand in the way of his own success.
The President of the United States is fatally ill and the only way to save him is to get a donor who matches him exactly. So he goes behind the backs of even his closest advisors in a bid to get himself secretly cloned, so he can then take the required organic matter from a baby version of himself. The trouble starts when, in the run up to the election that’ll decide whether or not he gets a second term in office, his leading political rival scents that something untoward is going on. A crack freelance investigator is unleashed on the President to work undercover and find out what’s going on.
A taught thriller ensues, with significantly more drama than the book’s 48 pages might imply. The dialogue is densely packed, and there are a few twists and turns to keep the plot on the boil. Pagot’s regulated three-row panel design keeps the complexity in the story and out of the artwork, and his characters (which is what this piece is really all about) and locations are instantly familiar and believable.
We don’t get to see a lot of French language bande dessinée translated into English, despite its popularity on the European continent and the relative similarity of our Western cultures. With quality like this to enjoy it’s a crying shame, though publisher Cinebook is making great leaps with this and its other titles.
Check this out if you like thrillers – it’s well worth a look at and we’ll hopefully cover the rest of the series as and when it’s published.
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