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Saturday, 26 December 2009

In Review: Pandora's Box - Sloth

As we all slowly recover from the excesses of Christmas it seems an appropriate time to be looking at Cinebook's latest offering from their Pandora's Box series, Sloth.

American Olympic sprinter Paris Troy has been the fastest man in the world over 100 metres since the Istanbul Olympics almost 10 years ago but an injury has left his record vulnerable to the younger sprinter Ace Achean. However the rivalry between the two men goes deeper since Achean's supermodel girlfriend Helen had left him for Paris. With Achean closing in on his record and with his recovery from injury not happening as quickly as he would like, Paris' brother Hector, a former sprinter who is a convicted drugs cheat, suggests he meet with a doctor who is prepared to prescribe something that will help him. Is Paris prepared to use the slothful way of cheating to return to his world beating fitness?

The Pandora's Box series from Cinebook is a set of eight books all written by the same author, Alcante, with seven different artists covering each of the seven deadly sins plus an eighth book, Hope, with art from the artist for the first book as a finale. Sloth is the second book in the series with art by Vujadin Radovanovic which was originally published in French by Dupuis in 2005 as Pandora Box 2: La Paresse.

As the names of the characters suggest, Alcante uses classical mythology as the basis for his characters - Paris stole away the beautiful Helen from the King of Sparta starting the 10 year siege of the city of Troy which ended with the deception of the Trojan Horse - while setting his story in the modern day. While not a plot point, the Trojan Horse itself does make an appearance as a tourist attraction in Istanbul, the best known Turkish city close to the modern day ruins of the city of Troy. While the book's characters are not quite faithful to those from the Trojan War, Helen is barely mentioned for instance, those readers with a classical education will be intrigued as to who Alcante introduces next in the plot and will also get a good indication of the climax of the story when they see that the doctor willing to prescribe the doping drugs to Paris is called Philoctetes.

Radovanovic's art is adequate for the job but doesn't sparkle and while Alcante's plotting is interesting, as he interweaves his story with the Trojan myth, his characters are ultimately unsympathetic and in the end I was left disinterested as to whether Paris decides to take the drugs or not. Indeed the last couple of pages of seemingly tacked on epilogue just appear to push the drugs message too far. Of course since the Pandora's Box series is individual and unconnected stories with different artists this doesn't mean that the next title, Gluttony, due in February 2010 can fully be judged on the basis of this one.

Pandora's Box is an interesting idea that Sloth just doesn't quite pull off.

There are more details of Pandora's Box: Sloth on the Cinebook website.

There are more details about the original publications of Pandora's Box on the Dupuis Pandora Box website.

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