The Polar Paradox
Written by Frank Martin
Artwork by Antonio Mastria

buy it HERE.


In familiar waters.

  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
  • The Undersea World of Jaques Cousteau.
  • Seaquest.
  • The Abyss.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

There's been several action/adventure stories in movies TV and literature surrounding the world in the oceans. If you throw in political thriller you can also count The Hunt for Red October and Ice Station Zebra along with a few dozen others. Frank Martin's The Polar Paradox fits nicely into this genre in a very well polished and refined story, both in the writing and in the artwork.

Straightforward story lines.

An underwater Antarctic scientific study team has gone missing, and its up to a specialized trio of US Navy-led deep sea divers to retrieve them. We get introduced to them and their mission is pretty straight forward. One suspects that there won't be any survivors but since there was radio contact right up to the end there's still a shred of hope. The divers get into their vessel deep under the Antarctic ice shelf to discover wonders quite unexpected.

What made me like this comic after the handful that I read before was its very concise and direct story telling. Frank avoided flashbacks, murky motivation, military or governmental conspiracies and just kept it a direct rescue/action story line (does anyone remember The Thunderbirds?).

A lot of writers could take a cue from this. When you're telling a story your reader is making their first baby steps in getting to know the characters, setting, conflict and hoped-for outcome. Too many times they get impatient and try to derail your enjoyment by throwing in too early something from their bag of surprises. They're hoping you'll like it, but usually it spoils the enjoyment by coming too soon.

Sober artwork.

The artwork was rendered in a very calm, technically intricate way where just about everything is carefully laid out. There won't be any jiggly expressive lines or scribbly forms dashed off in mere seconds. There's a deep methodical sensibility to Antonio Mastria's approach which I think actually helps the story in that we have this scientific trio also acting in a careful methodical way.

All in all, The Polar Paradox is a very good read, bold direct and blunt. The only ding I could ascribe to it might be in -actually breaking- an age-old rule in story telling: Show don't tell. What that means is if you can have characters doing the thing, then show them doing it, don't have them talk about doing it.

But here the 'show don't tell' rule might be applied too much -if just in the first five pages. There's a lot of really cool stuff that happens to the diver rescue team in the later part of the comic that I feel Frank Martin might've been better served by snipping off a few pages in the front filled with briefing scenes and embarkation scenes. Had the beginning exposition been slimmed down by four or five pages that space could've been applied to the back end.

There's a fairly decent hook at the end too for part two. I can't wait to read it!

Next Tuesday:

I'll be reviewing 2 great new books from Andrew Guilde, an author that I hugely respect and admire:

Forgotten Hymns
Man of Sin

Read Mayfield Eight Part 1: Into the Rat Hole!

Calvin Ryder, a young fry cook agrees to go on a motorcycle road trip to celebrate his birthday. He runs into a Biker Gang: The Banshees!

Read Part One

Read Mayfield Eight Part 2: White Meat!

Trouble ensues for Calvin as his friend conducts a back- room drug deal. He didn't count on it taking place at The Banshee's headquarters!

Read Part Two

Read Mayfield Eight Part 3: Faster, Faster!

The Banshees are onto Calvin and out for revenge. He gets the help of a lone confederate: A woman named Angelina.

Read Part Three
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Buy Mayfield Eight Here:

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