It wasn’t until the last few months that I’ve been really getting back into Top Cow. I never was into Witchblade too much, and although I had seen The Darkness on the shelves at my store, I was not sure of what was going on within the book. (The first few issues of Witchblade I just couldn’t get into; I don’t know why, I just couldn’t.) That changed after someone had me read Artifacts and I had to give Top Cow another look. So, when I heard about this great new story called Think Tank, I had decided that I was going to pick up the issues but alas it was sold out. So, wait for the trade it was, and I need to say this was a great read.
Think Tank Volume 1 contains the first 4 issues of the series. This title is different than the other books put out by Top Cow: whereas the Top Cow Universe is made of mystical artifacts and cybernetically-enhanced individuals, this book is all about science. Yes, real science. Not the technobabble we find in Star Trek and other sci-fi related shows, but it is based on real scientific principles. OK, some of the items may not actually exist today (at least as far as the public knows – governmental conspiracies, anyone?) but the principles are real. And that’s what makes this book different from the majority of comics I read from any publisher – there are no fancy Lycra or spandex outfits, there are no aliens or superpowers bent on world domination. No, it’s about a guy… a smart guy… no, a REALLY smart guy… who decides that he’s had enough.
First things first… The story revolves around a young scientist named Doctor David Loren. Loren is your typical boy genius – think Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory – but he understands that the world does not exist within a vacuum. There are consequences to the actions. And his actions are ones that result in the ending of human lives as he is a weapons designer for the U.S. government. Although he at one point did appear to live in said vacuum and not care about what happened beyond his getting to build some cool stuff, the character indicates that watching the movie Schindler’s List changed his life. Why should he be the one to create weapons that kill people? What’s right about that, regardless of where they are from and what their beliefs are? So, like the character in the movie he likes, he decides to no longer do it. He won’t build weapons that kill anymore – no more death.
His bosses, however, have a different take. They have funded his education and given him what he needs to succeed, and they feel that they deserve a return on their investment. So let’s summarize what we have: militaristic, “give-me-weapons” stereotype versus a headstrong, ultra-genius frat boy (or he would be if he didn’t graduate with his first degree as a teenager)… Who is gonna win? You, the reader, win. As we get to see Loren rebel against the military and effectively go rogue – he no longer wishes to be part of the military machine and, since they won’t let him go free (and even go so far as to utter threats under the vein of “national security”), he plots his escape. With the help of his colleague and long-time friend, Doctor Manish Pavi, a long-planned escape scenario is executed upon. First, though, Loren has to retrieve the woman he hooked up with on an independently-taken furlough, as they were both brought in by the MPs when it was discovered he was missing with some of the tech that he had… “appropriated” from another colleague.
Of course, for the big escape, we see Loren take advantage of many of the items he has spent years building and never completing… at least, never completing for his bosses. Turns out there were solutions to his work all along and it just needed a little bit of elbow grease to complete. Again, when you read this book, you need to take into account: everything here is based upon actual scientific principle! There are no outrageous theories involving subspace or warp field coils; no, these are actual principles involving light refraction and alternative energy methodologies. These are things that really could exist in reality.
Writer Matt Hawkins has taken an understanding of these scientific principles and created an action story around them. And not just a mediocre one, but a great one. This was such a fun read and it was interesting to see the scientific elements I remember from high school and university days used here – even if I didn’t go fully into the detail in my own past, I understood the fundamentals and anyone who has taken physics before will as well. Interspersing various quotes from Albert Einstein, the feeling of science being prevalent is used throughout this book. (Although similar ideas are found within Image’s The Manhattan Project by Jonathan Hickman, that story takes a darker more supernatural turn whereas this series revolves solely around the science.) Hawkins must understand the science himself to write this tale in the way he did, if he did not understand it this story would not be as good as it is.
Artist Rahsan Ekedal was a name I was unfamiliar with, but I really like what he has produced in Think Tank. His style is one that I, perhaps, would not like in a super-hero style book but really works for what is in this comic. It’s a fresh style (for me, at any rate) as I cannot really compare what he has done to the work of other artists. It’s detailed, but not overly detailed. Facial expressions are detailed, and with many artists that seems to be a challenge. He can also draw the body as if they aren’t some muscular, chest-puffed-out super God-like being, and the hands and feet actually look like hands and feet. Since the characters are working with a lot of scientific equipment, the ability to properly “hold” and utilize devices is key to the visual success here, and Ekedal manages that with great success.
I can really say this was a great read. I had heard plenty about it but had to wait to get it and, even though I waited, it was well worth it. Mystery, intrigue, rebellion, and a little bit of sex tossed in… Think Tank Volume 1 is a great find for those who want to try a story that’s more cerebral than super-villain-of-the-week. I am looking forward to Volume 2, as I think I would go nuts if I had to wait a month between issues while the story is still going on.