As a clinical counselor who renders enhanced mental health crisis based services, I have seen a lot of PTSD in my life, both from soldiers and non soldiers alike. The condition is difficult to crack as it takes on so many different looks and it is severely misdiagnosed with so many other conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. The short explanation is that PTSD puts your person in a perpetual state of hyper vigilance during all times of your day to day life. Unfortunately, your body is not supposed to be in this perpetual state and it throws everything out of whack, causing sleep disturbances, anger, mood swings, and in very rare but heavily publicized cases, violence to self and others. It is easy to dismiss it as something else, but PTSD is a condition that effects millions of people and it can be treated once identified. It’s the getting there to that diagnosis that is the problem. Fresh off the success of their multi issue first volume of work, writer Matt Hawkins and artist Rahsan Ekedal have taken their Think Tank series and begun a new and rather special story line for their protagonist, Dr. David Loren. They tackle PTSD full on and work to educate, entertain and inform the reader of this mysterious disease in their special Think Tank style. And they actually do a pretty damn good job in tackling it I must say. They treat PTSD with compassion, concern, and reality which makes this little (actually big 40+ pages) a very good read that is donating a portion of sales to the Wounded Warrior Project (Nice touch guys).
If you were a fan for the first volume of Think Tank (which I was), then I am happy to report that you will not be disappointed. All the elements from the original volume are there, slacker genius Loren, heavy doses of science, a fast paced and invigorating story with a mysterious enemy….It’s all here, except that this mysterious enemy is literally in the head and mostly unknown. Loren who after discovering that a soldier (and friend introduced in a previous issue), has committed an extreme act of violence, wants to help in spite of being told by the soldier to forget him. Loren decides to take a closer look at the why and the how of things by using his super powered brain to crack into a way to address how such a thing could happen to a reasonable and decent person, and possibly offer a cure or at least a more effective treatment to him and others.
That is the basic story and I think that it would have been very easy to sugarcoat things, and maybe even put a happy face on this with our hero saving the day with great applause, especially in what could be considered a one shot type story. Instead, Loren runs into dead ends, guarded responses from subjects, and even a surprise ending that puts some serious and sobering realism to this seriously sobering subject. PTSD is no easy thing to crack no matter who you are or how smart.
Hawkins writes in his smart and entertaining way and makes the pages turn quickly as you get into this plight with the clock ticking. It is paced well and delivers in all spots, being graciously complemented by Ekedal’s sharp and smooth artistry. Both make to create for a good story that educates and entertains, like all of the Think Tank stories to date. These two haven’t lost their touch at all.
As a mental health professional, I found the research and portrayal to be quite accurate. Homework was done here and it is my hope that this story can gain some added traction and help to the Wounded Warrior project of which the story is aiding with support. This issue also offers a nice primer to the next volume of Think Tank, which promises to be back and in color no less. I can’t wait. And yes, yes, reading this book does make me smarter. It will make you smarter too.
Writer: Matt Hawkins Artist: Rahsan Ekedal Publisher: Image/Top Cow/Minotaur Press Price: $4.99 Format: Print/Digital