September 28, 2011

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First Law of Mad Science #1

Written by Mike Isenberg and Oliver Mertz
Illustrated by Daniel Lapham
Self-Published

A scientific breakthrough leads to great changes in the way the world is viewed when George Baker gives the world retinal implants.  It should lead to a new age of medicine, but as time passes, it's clear for all to see that the details are not nearly so simple.  Meanwhile, an expedition of an unusual site brings suggestions of unspeakable horror.  As if that's not enough, Baker's family might be just about to get involved with something deadly.  It's all part of the First Law of Mad Science.

This is an exposition-heavy issue, but that's to be expected when putting together a first issue from scratch.  Clearly influenced by HP Lovecraft and the idea of things man was not meant to know, the story slowly unveils the possible terrors to be unleashed on Baker's family and those around him.  At times this is a bit clunky, but overall, I think the balance is pretty good.  There's just enough action going on to mask the amount of time we're spending on figuring out who the characters are, and that's all I ask in a first issue with an all-new universe.

I also liked the characters we met.  George Baker is the man who thinks science can solve everything, and he's headed for quite the fall.  His son lives in his shadow, and his desire to do more might lead to increased trouble.  R.A.I.C.H.E.L. provides both the brawn and the comic relief, reminding me a bit of Ben Grimm with an attitude, which I guess means she's kinda like She-Hulk?  Regardless, her first words set the tone of her character, and I think she'll be the star of the series as this comic moves forward.

One thing that's a bit odd in this case is that the cover art is inferior to the internal work.  I don't think the cover does justice to the creepiness or the level of detail Lapham provides in his illustrations.  It's also very generic, the typical posing cover we see so often today.  I wish this one had a stronger, eye-catching cover because I think this one is going to cover up the potential of the world.

Once you move inside the book, Lapham's pencils and inks show a level of craft that is a cut above what you might expect in a comic like this.  He does a great job with body language, panel positioning, and faces that help move along Isenberg and Mertz's story.  These are little touches, but they are often lost on artists who think that big splash pages are the best way to communicate action.  They are--in the right places.  Lapham gets this, and the works shines as a result, even in simple black and white.

I liked First Law of Mad Science, and I'd be happy to read an issue 2.  There are some--no, make that a lot of--dangling plot threads that, once they come together, should make for a great horror/science fiction story.  I hope that the creators get a chance to keep this series going.

You can find all sorts of information on First Law of Mad Science at the comic's website, including how to get a copy.  Those with Previews in hand can find it as Publisher "Noreon Labs" and order code "SEP111191".

The folks behind First Law of Mad Science were kind enough to give me a copy to review.  Thanks!  If you are interested in having your comic reviewed here at Panel Patter, e-mail me at trebro@gmail.com.