Review – Syndrome

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Syndrome HC_CoverWhere do I begin with the rather twisted tale of Syndrome.  I can’t help but feel like I’ve seen this story before, but at the same time, it feels original and just totally messed up, in a good way.  Take the Truman Show, but throw in a serial killer as the center of the universe, and you have this graphic novel.

Created by Blake Leibel, written by Daniel Quantz and R.J. Ryan, illustrated by David Marquez and colored by Bill Farmer the graphic novel is a great summer read in it’s own dark way.

The story focuses on four main characters, the serial killer, the poor actress at the center of the experiment to reform the killer, the asshole production designer and the psychiatrist trying to write a wrong and the case that he couldn’t solve.  Each character is very flawed in their own ways and at times we’re asked to question who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong.

Moral standings are debated as a psychiatrist plays god, and in a way so does the production designer.  The killer and the actress both are manipulated, how much of that is willingly, and how much of that is forced?

There’s fantastic moments of shock and the pacing, and “arcs” of the story are top notch.

If you head to San Diego Comic-Con, absolutely grab this graphic novel, you’ll have a great read for the ride home.

Plot: Quantz and Ryan do a fantastic job with the plot and pacing.  Each chapter arc is broken up with fantastic quotes, and there’s a point to each chapter.  The dialogue is good and characters are believable if not stereotypes a bit.  There’s definitely shocking moments that are just dropped on you and the ending definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.  There’s an opening for a follow up and I hope we get it.  Rating: 9

Art: Marquez’s art with colors by Farmer are top notch and definitely make the graphic novel readable and entertaining.  My only caveat is that the page layouts for the most part consist of variations on blocks.  There’s not much difference between pages other than the occasional splash page.  This could be due to the all digital approach Marquez took with the project.  It’s not bad at all (don’t get me wrong), I just thought playing with the page layout might of taken the book all the way to one of the best of the year.  Overall though, it’s definitely pleasant on the eyes.  Rating: 8.75

Overall: The graphic novel is a great read a definite purchase for those who enjoy a good story about twisted individuals (and I’m not just talking the serial killer).  On top of the excellent story and art there’s a walk through of the artistic process by Marquez where he described the digital process that went into the creation of the book.  Especially interesting is the use of new tools like Google Wave to collaborate on the project.  That alone is almost worth the purchase.  Again, if you make it to SDCC, definitely pick up a copy, for the rest of you, make sure your local comic shop saves you a copy.  Overall rating: 9

Recommendation: Buy

Page count: 112 pages    Price: $19.95     Release: 9/9/2010

Archaia provided Graphic Policy with an advance copy of this issue for FREE for review.