Caution: Reading this book will make you smarter.
Source: Top Cow
has been catching my eye lately, ever since the announcement of their talent hunt
this year. So when I noticed they put up Think Tank #1 to read for free
, I thought I’d give it a shot. Nine issues later I realized that Matt Hawkins, President and COO of Top Cow
, really knows what he’s doing.
One of my personal favorite genres is a good political/cerebral thriller. Dr. David Loren is basically a young Tony Stark, forced to create new gadgets and weapons for the government under tyrannical oversight. Riddled with political tiptoeing and real action, you can almost call it Homeland meets House of Cards. Comparisons aside, this is an original series. I wanted to really narrow down what brings the magic together to help spread the word about this series that really makes you think. In order to do that, I paid attention as I caught up to issue #10 and am going to give you 10 reasons why this series works.
1. It's brutal.
In the marriage of warfare and politics, room only exists for cut-throats and bastards. Consequently, some characters in this comic can be quite conniving and careless. Corrupt co-conspirators that may have thought their discretion would leave a feeling of security are reminded quickly that everyone in a big operation is expendable. Fortunately, there's more than just brutality to the breadth of the antagonists as we find out later, but there's plenty of love-to-hate filling the pages here.
2. As serious as it is, it isn't.
The heart of the story rests on Dr. David Loren, a genius sociopath who earns a little heart over the course of the series so far, providing a little comic relief from time to time. From Twilight references to pop-music choices, the comedic lift in the issues really rounds out the sharp, brutal edges.
3. Hawkins does his homework.
At the end of single issues and the TPBs, you’ll notice where Hawkins lists examples of how real or close to reality the weapons DARPA uses are, even giving you ways to pursue more knowledge about them presented in the form of video or informative web links. Albeit some of thinks links are dead, there’s enough information to dig into. I did know about some of the technologies Loren is messing with, but was shocked at others such as a thought to text program. How accessible are these technologies? It makes you think. Think that someone knows what you’re thinking. About thinking what they know what you’re thinking.
Plus locations are real, military teams are accurate or willingly semi-accurate portrayals of the real deal, and it’s based off of actual modern history.
4. The theoretical weapons are sinister.
Not all the weapons used are reality; some are just based off potential. Take Genetic Targeting for example; it's a pretty perverse thought. The more intelligent an individual is, the more potential for great good or great harm. This is certainly true for Dr. David Loren, there’s a lot of good ideas that come from dark places, but it also infers some serious creative prowess. Pretty much this whole series so far is about taking great scientific research and morphing into an unthinkable weapon. If Hawkins is thinking this stuff up, what else is out there that we just don't know about?
5. Caution : This book will make you smarter, but it doesn't make you feel dumb.
Science and math nomenclature could have run amuck in the series, but luckily foresight was conducted and a dummy like myself could make sense of some of the references. This is done tactfully, but extends to geography too, explaining the difference between Taiwan and China. That being said, some knowledge of science and math must be known and this read could be semi-difficult for those who need to wear floaties when they eat their cereal.
6. Definitive Arcs.
The beginning, middle, and end to Volumes 1 & 2 leave you ready to read more, but give the feeling of progression rather than constant cliffhanging agony. I think there’s benefits to cliffhangers and complete stories, but the story itself is gratifying when you feel like you’re moving forward yet continuing seamlessly. Just when you think everything ended great, volume 2 shows you it was all a ruse.
7. Dr. David Loren has awesome shirts.
I seriously want one. It’s hard to feel the full humor without seeing his shirts in context, but it’s the small details that take a comic from good to great. My favorites are “LEARN TO LOVE THE BOMB, ”“NO MATTER NO MASS” and “SEAL TEAM SEXY”.
8. The quotes at the beginning actually tell you the direction of the issue.
A pet peeve of mine is quotes that lead the chapters are confusing and only abstractly resemble the theme for the next few pages. Here, some memorable quotes prove to be very relevant foreshadowing for what’s coming. Some of my favorites;
“One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.” - Joseph Stalin (Chilling!)
“War does not determine who is right - only who is left.” - Bertrand Russell
Then there’s the well known phrase, “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has it’s limits.” - Albert Einstein
9. It feeds the conspiracy theorist within.
Everyone’s a critic of the government; some people take it to the extreme, some have a real point. Questioning the role of our government is healthy, and is what our country was founded on. When a comic brings that to the table, it makes conspiracy theorists happy and helps the reader pay a little more attention.
10. There is no right or wrong.
This is my favorite part about this series, and is the selling point to me, but it wasn’t completely clear until I took a step back from it. Hawkins is proving a point. People may have staunch opinions of right and wrong, religion and science, fact and opinion, but all are called into question here. He explains his own conflict of the soul at the end of issue #10, which I really relate to on a personal level. Originally in the series Dr. David Loren is a devout atheist, later he begins questioning it, and in an understated way asks the ultimate question, if we have a soul.
That’s religion vs science, but in regards to right vs wrong, a serious case of the feels ensues after Loren is forced to face the consequences of a decision he made regarding a weapon he created. He witnesses a death right in front of him for the first time. This is a stark difference from all the other deaths he's responsible for, which was from a distance, on a computer. Suddenly it all becomes real, and he realizes what he thought was right, was wrong and right. Let the moral dilemmas commence!
In conclusion, this series is well researched, insightful, and entertaining. Give it a shot if you haven't already; after all the first issue is free! Think Tank #10 just came out October 9th, and each issue is 32 pages, so you get a lot for your money.
The Outhouse is sponsored this week by Kidthulhu. Show them you appreciate their support of independent comics journalism by clicking this link.