“Road to Pandemonium”
A Comic Series from Soul Punk Studios
Created/Written by Sam Dabbs and RJ Harbour
Pencil/Ink by Eugene Huang, Mariana Traverso,
Color by Daniel Dussault
While I was attending Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles earlier this month, I stumbled across the booth for Soul Punk Studios (www.soulpunkstudios.com), and was immediately struck by the artwork in this title, which is saying something, since I’m a writer, not an artist.
Varying across the four available issues (00-04), the visual style begins as an semi-impressionistic capture of the action on the battlefield. The opening issue, titled “Atheist in a Foxhole,” sets the stage for our unnamed protagonist to survive—barely—a vicious battle on a snow-covered battlefield, only in subsequent issues to find himself dead again, but now enmeshed in a battle between good and evil far beyond any he might have witnessed between mere mortals.
In following issues, however the artistic style becomes more defined, with a combination of realistic paint and computer-generated worlds. This visual evolution serves the storyline well, though, as the harsh and grey-moral-center world of man is traded for the black-and-white, good-and-evil world beyond the Veil.
Caught up in a battle between the divine and the demonic, our protagonist, such as he is, is taken and protected by the angels beyond the Veil, where they hope to somehow use him against the demons that are about to overwhelm and destroy them.
While a battle between Angels and Demons isn’t particularly original, nor is the inclusion of a key mortal soul (see Constantine, Prophesy, and countless others), I suppose that what I find truly disappointing about this series so far is that, precisely because it is so incredibly visual, with pages of non-dialogue carrying the story, is that I wish this was a motion piece, short or feature length.
That is not to say that I dislike this series. I’m just saying that, as a reader, I can see what might be. There may be designs in that direction on the part of Soul Punk. If so, I applaud them. It would be a big undertaking with a potentially huge upside, but one I hope they are seriously considering attempting.
Read this series. Enjoy it. The world beyond the Veil is worth seeing, even if you find the concept overall disappointing. If I had the time and money, “Road to Pandemonium” would be on my list for at least a dozen more issues to see how their overall plan plays out.
But, one of the downsides of life is that we don’t often have the time and wherewithal to do all of the things we want to. I am, however, grateful to have seen something like this, if for no other reason than to know that people are still out there striving to create and entertain and even educate their audience. Kudos to Soul Punk for taking that chance, and for executing it so beautifully.
But if you do have the time, I say: read “Road to Pandemonium.”
But that’s just me.