Cover to ‘Agents of P.A.C.T.’ #1. Art by Federica Manfredi and Caroline Nolasco/Chapterhouse Comics

By Courtney Ryan. Diplomacy, peace, and female power form the pillars of Agents of P.A.C.T. #1, the first in the hotly anticipated flagship series from Canada’s Chapterhouse Comics. Billed as “The X-Files meets Velvet meets Birds of Prey,” the extraterrestrial-tinged superhero saga has a lot to live up to. Luckily, the first issue indicates that writers Kalman Andrasofszky and Blake Northcott are up for the task, deftly blending science-fiction and government intrigue into one satisfying superhero caper.

The story revolves around P.A.C.T., which stands for Paranormal Activity Containment Team and is an offshoot of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Worrisome exterrestrial breaches have occurred across the polar hedges of North America and since Captain Canuck has gone AWOL it’s up to P.A.C.T.’s director, Manon DeChamps, to devise a solution. Thus, she assembles a clandestine team of women super-agents, some burdened by dark pasts and traumatic training.

What is both fresh and appropriate about Agents of P.A.C.T. #1 is that DeChamps and her crew face opposition from individuals and entities whose policies are built on hate and fear rather than mere corporate greed. This means she must demonstrate nuanced diplomacy by appealing to shared interests when possible but also must cut ties before the weakest manifestations of human nature succeed.

Andrasofszky and Northcott do a fine job immersing us in P.A.C.T.’s world (the Chapterverse), without sparing crucial development for rushed exposition. They receive a hand in this from artist Federica Manfredi, who seamlessly weaves through various settings that feel simultaneously modern and familiar but also foreign and futuristic. Though we are told that this is present day, the story sometimes reads like we’re taking an indulgent walk through an alternate timeline that could have been caused by the choices of a single, anarchy-minded butterfly back in the 1980s.

Agents of P.A.C.T. #1 is a terrific opening for this series. DeChamps is a formidable hero and prudent counter to Captain Canuck’s brawn. The central problem at hand and the potential choices characters might make are already intriguing, which is really all you can ask for in a good read.

Chapterhouse Comics/$3.99

Written by Kalman Andrasofszky and Blake Northcott.

Art by Federica Manfredi.

Colored by Caroline Nolasco.

Lettered by Andrew Thomas.

8.5 out of 10