We are living in an age where technology is still catching up to our collective imaginations. With things like Google Glass the reality of being connected and by extension a cybernetic being is plausible. Leave it to a comic book to put the fear of technological advancement into your mind when something like First Law of Mad Science comes along. A story set in the not too distant future where one company has seemingly perfect the first cybernetic eye.
That is how the story opens actually with the announcement of the technology from George Baker the greatest mind of his generation. George and his unique family are about to take center stage for his company, Noreon, to present the cyber eye. First he introduces his robotic daughter R.a.i.ch.e.l. who is literally a cybernetic life form in the frame of a teenage girl. After that, George introduces his son Hank who was one of the first to receive the Cyber Eye. He broadcasts his POV on the projection screens above as George walks through all of the features. Next is the Q&A where George continues the spectacle of the Cyber Eye by getting the surgery done on stage.
Days later we arrive at one of Noreon’s offices and follow a man that is clearly running from something. People don’t know what he’s in a panic about though as he asks if they can see “it.” Suddenly an invisible force sends the man flying out the window on to the pavement below, killing him. Soon after we meet Edward Varius the business partner for George Baker; he’s being informed of the man’s death at Noreon. We also meet his son Teddy who is friends with George’s son Hank; Andrew yells at him telling him not to be friends with Hank due to his business partnership with George. Teddy goes to science club anyways to hang out with Hank and watch him perform an experiment that he thinks has produced life in the form of green slug looking things. The problem is, only Hank can see them.
The next element of the story comes to us from Antarctica as Noreon excavates a hidden city underneath the ground. They’ve made a discovery of a door that they haven’t explored yet. George and Edward’s wives are in charge of the site and they’re being interviewed as they make the new discovery. Too bad things are about to take a nod from The Thing.
Back with the Baker family, Hank finally tells his father about the “life” he’s created which sends out all sorts of red flags for George. He taps into his son’s eyes feed and discovers what Hank is seeing. He contacts Andrew and asks him to check in on the test subjects that came before Hank and to find out what the mystery element that went into the project really was.
As the issues progress we discover that there is more going on in Antarctica than Noreon knew and whatever is going on there could spell the end of the world… maybe. Hank continues to see the green slugs and they begin to cover his entire body.
The story essentially follows three major plot lines, but all of the stories are intertwine and working towards the same goal. The Baker’s (minus mom) are on a journey to figure out why Hank is affected differently by the Cyber Eye’s than others. Additionally, Andrew and Abby are tracking down the mystery element that was giving to the project from the military R & D program. Then there is the Antarctica side of the story which is dealing with some ancient evil shit that’s trying to kill them or convert them. There is also a subplot about a reporter investigating a rival company to Noreon that is up to some even weird stuff.
There is a ton going on in each issue, but I assure you that it is all well-plotted. It’s a great read that quickly emerges the reader into the story; also the fact that it’s topical and the not too distant future makes it very interesting. At times it has a Fantastic Four feel to it, but minus the super powers and the instant answer to solve every problem. The families in the story are very realistic and pretty dysfunctional. It makes the dynamic fun to read and I’m sure that all of the different family elements will play out more in the future.
I really enjoyed the dialog and even though there was a lot of it, it was very interesting and believable. The characters swear, even the kids swear, but it’s not out of place or gratuitous. As someone who swears a lot, I tend to hate it when comic books over use swearing, but that’s not the case here.
The art is actually really good. There gets to the point when reviewing independent art that you can pretty much spot a first time artists from their style alone. I don’t believe that this is Lapham’s first work, but if it is then he fooled me. There is a lot of detail to the issues and it has a great scratchy look to it that keeps the future from looking sterile and clean. In particular the coloring is key to the arts success. The coloring is so strong that it controls the entire mood and feel of the story; there is something about the style that helps the book stand out.
First Law of Mad Science is independently published, but really I could see a smaller press company picking it up and it fitting right in. In the meantime though it’s a part of Comixology’s Submit program meaning that you can get it digitally. I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I liked this series and blew through all three issues in one sitting. I was actually disappointed to reach the end of the third issue. If you’re a fan of science, particularly of the mad variety, and enjoy mysteries then I would definitely check this book out either digitally or in print from the creator’s website.
Writers: Mike Isenberg and Oliver Mertz
Artist: Daniel Lapham
Digital Grayscales: Jeff McComsey
Price: $3.99 – Print / .99 for the 1st Issue Digitally and $1.99 for the rest