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'Psi-Lords' Issue 1 Is Intoxicating Sci-Fi and Still Makes A Triumphant Impact

Psi-Lords Issue 1 Preview Image

About Psi-Lords Issue 1

Psi-Lords #1 is written by Fred Van Lente. The artwork and coloring is by Renato Guedes and lettering by Dave Sharpe. The issue was released on June 19th, 2019. Psi-Lords is published by Valiant Entertainment.

Psi-Lords Issue 1 Review

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers in this Issue 1 review of Psi-Lords.

Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Main Cover
Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Main Cover

Psi-Lords Issue 1 is a violent space opera that begins with the classic trope of memory loss (cross-reference media like The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later and The Night of The Triffids) which evolves into a storyline that covers themes of isolation, self-discovery, fascism (in the treatment of the main characters), acceptance, trauma and the erasure of diversity.

Fred Van Lente's script is carefully laid out in breadcrumbs that reveal each mystery that is neither rushed nor forced but allows for the reader to discover the universe his characters dwell in at the same pace as the reader. This universe is brutal, enticing, enigmatic and cosmic thanks to the realism style of Renato Guedes' artwork and coloring. A style heightened as letterer Dave Sharpe plays around with different lettering fonts which find the voice of each character. There's a hidden mystery that unfolds and evolves from the turn of the very first page which first time readers will find absolutely intoxicating. All in all, Psi-Lords still makes a triumphant impact!

Psi-Lords opens on a mysterious looking base housing a number of prisoners with round the clock guards surveilling their every move. The guards wear masked helmets which give no indication of who or what they are - adding to the isolated discomfort which writer Fred Van Lente wants you to feel throughout the duration of this first issue.

Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Pages 2-3
Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Pages 2-3

Two of these guards are beating one of the prisoners, a white man with a military issue hair cut, in his cell with their energy rods. As he's being beaten, a telepathic voice is communicating with him, calling himself "Scion." Coughing up blood, the prisoner tells him this isn't enough for him. He's a soldier and needs a mission to complete. Scion gives him the call-sign as 'Tank' and tells him that above all else his mission is survival.

The scene cuts to another prisoner. A black woman, stuck in her cell, meditating as Scion tries to communicate with her. Giving the feeling that Scion is somehow communicating with all of these prisoners simultaneously. The woman, who Scion dubs as 'Beacon', admits she's an analytical personality as she works with Data and in an Archive and so she needs some proof before she'll start to believe that Scion is anything but a voice in her head. Scion asks Beacon to search her memories for the last moment she remembers.

In a three-panel flashback sequence highlighting Renato Guedes' coloring techniques, Beacon probes into her own memories. She's busy working by herself in her archive then her solitude is interrupted by searing pain as she's unconscious, lying on a stretcher, naked and with a molten red laser probing into her skull. Beacon realises she doesn't know how she got there, who's doing this to her or the more important question: WHY?

Scion interrupts her traumatic dreamscape flashback sequence with the haunting revelation that Beacon isn't being imprisoned for something she's done - but for who she is - a god.

This leans into the next scene where the third prisoner, an asian man who Scion has dubbed 'Artisan', has been told the same thing. He's a god. This reinforces the theory that Scion is communicating with these prisoners simultaneously. Scion wants to help Artisan break out of his cell but Scion refuses his help, citing he'll break free using his own skills. Like Beacon, Scion prompts Artisan to probe into his own memories and recount why he's there. Artisan is initially dismissive, which is reinforced by the creative team, who wash over his flashback in two short panels. Indicating the arrogance of Artisan who, uses his hacking abilities to open his cell door by playing with a loose panel the guards neglected to obfusgate.

While this is going on, the woman who has been dubbed 'Hazard', is in the fetal position in her cell pleading for Scion to get out of her head. She begs for sleep and to be left alone, saying the last thing she needs is for her overcrowded head to be inhabited by another voice. Scion advises he can't do that and that he can be her best ally. He's looking beyond her memories which involved the alleged murders at her hand by means of a surgeon's scalpel and informs that her memories have been disrupted. Still on the floor, writhing around and questioning her own sanity, Hazard questions Scion, asking for him to prove he isn't working with her captors and this isn't some trick. Scion responds in the only way he can by proving the best way he can prove to her that he can be trusted is by showing her the path to freedom. Dealing with her own sanity and disrupted memories will come later.

Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Pages 6-7
Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Pages 6-7

Meanwhile, Artisan is finally able to open his own cell, only to realise he's activated a sensor which opens a trap door. Before Scion can stop him, Artisan is already plumeting to his own demise at the jaws of some Lovecraftian-looking-Frank-Herbert-Worm-Things but is able to activate his latent god-power when Scion tells him to open his mind. Artisan's body lights up all around him, causing to soar back to the prison level he was just on, for all his fellow prisoners to see and for the guards to start unleashing a volley of unfriendly fire power at him.

As Artisan is creating this distraction, Beacon catches on that the Guards are about to 'electrify' all the prison cells. She cries for help, asking Scion how she can stop them, with Scion telling her she can stop them however she wants. Opening her mind, Beacon draws out all the electricity in her cell, causing the stasis field keeping her captive to fail. The guards move in and Beacon responds by forming a psionic dual-cannon on her back, unleashing a volley of shots at her captors.

Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Pages 10-11
Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Pages 10-11

Witnessing what's going on, Tank activates his own latent power, in the form of two over-extended psionic fists which take a few nearby guards. While this is happening, Hazard is still in disbelief, Scion unknowingly comforting her, telling her that belief is not required where the truth is concerned. As this is happening, four armed guards open Hazard's cell only to reveal she can't be seen anywhere. With her own power activated, causing invisibility, she's able to take them out in a scrappy example of her own variety of combat sports.

Finally; Hazard, Tank and Artisan consolidate their efforts and begin to exchange notes on their own experiences as they loiter in front of an ancient-looking airlock. Tank and Artisan, whilst happy to work together, seem a little anxious around Hazard who is covered in the blood of the four guards she just killed. This gives way to Beacon's grand entrance and her introduction to the other three as she electrifies her powers, blasting open the airlock, and sending it flying through the base and out of this comic book issue altogether.

While looking around, they question the age of their surroundings as their environment is very old - almost cathedral-like in appearance. Before long, they come face-to-face with Scion. An older, bearded white gentleman, dressed in red garb, who is being operated on by a pair of shadowy figures in black garb. With all patience lost, Hazard quickly takes them out, leaving Tank to use his powers to free Scion from the alien-looking-operating-stretcher he's bound to.

Freed of his restraints, Scion turns to the group and explains they've all been marked by the sigil of the Psi-Lords. Beacon question if he's referring to the barcodes on each of their arms but he responds that he means the symbol on their foreheads. Scion goes on to explain the base, or "palisade", they're currently on is owned by an organisation called the 'Starwatchers' and that for them to discover the full-truth they have to find the holding place of the Psi-Lords.

Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Pages 16-17 (including Ad of Doctor Mirage)
Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Pages 16-17 (including Ad of Doctor Mirage)

As more questions than answers are thrown around, the group doesn't realise a nearby opens to reveal more Starwatchers troops that take out Scion from behind. Enraged, the four 'gods' take out the troops involved in this deadly ambush, in an incredible double page multi-colored display of Renato Guedes' cosmic greatness.

Tank, holding Scion during his final breaths, hears him utter that they need to find the Psi-Lords and that only they hold the hope for the universe. Over hearing this, Beacon doubts the point of such power if they cannot save those around them, but realises the barcodes on each of their arms might be a clue. Using her ability, lasers emits from her eyes and she scans her own barcode, revealing an encoded holographic message which looks like a starship.

Artisan turns to Hazard and sees her still pumelling a dead Starwatcher corpse, asking her to stop and calm down, Hazard warning that her own rage bubbles out like magma and is uncontrollable at times. Leaving Artisan joking she's on their side. Despite this, Hazard is remorseful for what she's done, wondering if she's robbed a family of a husband, a father, a brother or a son.

As Tank and Beacon gaze at the holographic message she's discovered, they make the discovery the message shows a starship, an image of the solar system and shows where each of them are from. Beacon is French, Tank is Russian, Hazard is American - but before they can talk further a scream of shock cries out from Hazard. Upon removing of the helmets from the dead guards it has revealed they're not human. The aliens are pale grey in complexion, sporting flat snake-like noses, defined jawlines with jagged teeth to match - each bald with a gem-like stone designs on their protruding foreheads.

Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Pages 20-21
Psi-Lords Issue 1 - Pages 20-21

As the four of them look on in shock, Artisan looks above and spots a porthole, pointing it out to the other three. A porthole which looks out not just into space but into the belly of a dying celestial body. The Starwatchers palisade that is holding them prisoner is located in the depths of a dying sun. How they're going to escape is anyone's guess.

This brings the first issue of Psi-Lords to a close by leaving on a cliffhanger with a seemingly impossible obstacle to overcome. Even with their newly discovered powers, how will this quartet of cosmic gods escape and return to earth? Even more to the point - is earth their ultimate destination or just a misdirect by Fred Van Lente to elevate the perceived shock of their own captivity? I'm looking forward what shocks that Issue 2 will bring.

What did you think?

I hope you enjoyed my Psi-Lords Issue 1 review! What did you think of this issue?

Are you happy with the direction of this cosmic prison break by Fred Van Lente and Renato Guedes?

Leave me a comment below or let me know on social media.


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