Review: Paradigm Shift


In pretty much every variation on the written and spoken word that hasn’t been touched by Tom Clancy, there is a deep, deep mistrust for big institutions (be it Wal*Mart, the government, the military, or organized religion). In just about every story, movie, or video game nowadays, these entities are enormous well-oiled conspiracies out to enslave or destroy humanity, often using large chunks of said humanity as tools of their own enslavement. For example, Final Fantasy X‘s storyline can be boiled down to “You can only be free of Sin by destroying all the Fayth in the world.” The upcoming Final Fantasy XIII goes so far as to have their gods known as the fal’Cie (pronounced “fallacy”). Real subtle there, Square-Enix. Real subtle.

So in reviewing Paradigm Shift, by Dirk I. Tiede, I find myself rather disappointed that the paradigm above does not, in fact, shift. About the only thing more frustrating is the fact that Tiede lays each “scene” out in its entirety on one page; this means I won’t be able to link to examples of what I’m going to say, because each reference will be buried somewhere down in the middle and those of my readers on dial-up will cry themselves to sleep. The infinite canvas is at once a beautiful thing and reason for dread.

Setting the story aside, let me take a moment to gush over the art. Like with Multiplex, PS is set in Chicago (imagine the cross-over potential!), and Tiede fills every panel with highly accurate and detailed renditions of local landmarks. This detail isn’t limited to the backgrounds, either. Character outfits and props have every line and wrinkle carefully delineated, and Tiede makes sure to ink in every last hair of every last lycanthropic transformation (of which there are ever so many). It’s little wonder that the comic only updates once a week; he must need half of that just to work out the cramps in his hand.

His proportions are likewise generally spot-on. It’s faces where any sort of problem arises for me, and that’s mostly because the way Tiede outlines shadows makes everyone appear to have kitty-noses. And after a while, main character Kate’s self-satisfied manic grin seems more and more inappropriate to the situations she’s in. But then, given the number of scenes where that smile is the only thing she’s wearing, maybe she’s justified in clinging to it.

A certain amount of the plot is werewolf boilerplate: mysterious deaths around town, could be an animal but it’s too intelligent, someone’s recovering way too fast from deadly wounds, disturbing dreams and irrational behavior point at something being seriously wrong, and oh by the way the spunky girl’s a werewolf. I actually get more entertainment from the characters’ interactions and the detective aspect of the story (a strange admission from someone who’s usually put off by forensic drama), and this dichotomy is only compounded when the spectacularly unsubtle Werewolves In Black show up to drag away or neutralize everyone who’s been even remotely sympathetic to the story.

Speaking as a Christian who has worked in a government job before, with relatives who have been in the military, police, and other government positions, I have to say that I’m particularly irked by all these accusations of religion and governments being massive, well-oiled machines of evil, out to crush the little guy. I’ve sat through one too many lectures from people about how organized religion inspires bigotry and hatred … the day before going to a local church to help with a blood drive, a food bank event, or a community clean-up deal. And after working for the State Parks department … let’s just say that the government isn’t evil. Just inefficient.

Comic Rating: Four outfits a week that girl must have to go through.

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