Review: Think Tank #1A comic review article by: Jamil Scalese
Back in the day, like three years ago, I used to teach adults how to use computers for a government employment agency. A majority of my students had very little computer experience, and coming into my classroom most had as much familiarity with a PC as us computer-literate people have with Large Hadron Colliders.
Their introduction to the world of information machines would involve my briefing the history of the technology, the internet and some of the quirks of our digital age. I found myself often digressing into the exponential rate of technological advancement, and how our devices and inventions become increasingly more complex over a increasingly condensed time. To give some context I would tell them that military tech is typically estimated to be 15 years ahead of the stuff we have in the public sphere. My common example was to ask them to picture someone whipping out an iPad in 1995, and to imagine how futuristic that device would look alongside newly debuted techware like digital cameras and Netscape. Those were the days when we thought AOL was the shit; in '95 even the Zune would have blown our minds.
The future of technology is at the center of Think Tank. Our protagonist is David Loren, a supergenius who is also brilliantly lazy. David works for a government weapon development center, serving in the field of "pure research," which basically means he sits around and thinks of new ways to kill people. A slacker at heart, David is torn in his occupation as the guy who creates the things that destroy lives. Writer, and Top Cow president, Matt Hawkins imbeds the narrative with the main character's cynical and laid back personality. Over the course of the 22-page issue we learn that Dr. Loren is not only smart and goodhearted, but also smooth enough to get laid too.
The art is in black and white, and reminiscent of manga. Ekedal does an excellent job of evoking texture in the comic, and the concentration on faces and expression is smart. The art balances the emotion and the science well, which fits the comics niche: a character story with some cool gadgets. An obvious comparison is House, with both leads being mischievous misanthropes sponsoring hearts of gold, but I don't want to typecast David that fast.
Think Tank is a fabulous attempt at a hard sci-fi title, a difficult subgenre to nail since the slope of believability is steep and slippery. In a note to readers Hawkins gives background info on the creation of the book and his knowledge of real life think tanks and science organizations, and it shows in the script. The science and inventions mentioned, from Suggestion Gas, to super powered batteries and cell phones that can read minds seem plausible in the way they're presented. This is stuff I could definitely see occupying the public sphere 15 years from now.
The comic does not visually standout, and the main character needs room to grow, but this Top Cow release feels fresh and a little overdue. Keep a watchful and eager eye on Think Tank, it's a scrappy little comic that begs for a read.
Jamil Scalese is just like you -- an avid comics reader and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, devotee of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation. Check out his original, ongoing webcomic And Then There Were Zombies and follow his subpar tweeting at @jamilscalese.