The Scientists Part One: The Prodigies
Review By Clyde Hall
Don’t dismiss The Scientists. Likely, the young protagonists of The Scientists Part One: The Prodigies are used to being overlooked by their classmates. Or they were, until their true nature as amazing prodigies brought them acclaim and attention usually reserved for promising young athletes. As the story begins, we meet kids who’ve become rock stars (or at least regional celebrities) of math and science. Some ignore the hubbub. Some foster it. Some embrace it. Some have it thrust upon them by expectant parents. But all are impacted by it and handle the results of placing in a national science fair competition differently.
Soon they are all aboard a flight to Syracuse and getting acquainted with their cast of fellow wunderkinds. But by then, and with more specific characterizing than you usually find in an introductory tale, the reader knows the main players. Introductions have been made, brief but meaningful. Combine that with a seemingly unrelated opening act ending in violence, and the page-turning hook is set.
Following the flight, the narrative takes a turn for "The Maze Runner", given its YA cast. Or if you’re one to base a parallel squarely on the conflict type, a turn for the "Saw". Things have gone unreal for the band of budding best and brightest. There are still many more questions than answers, and the reader is left wanting to know more with a Book Two. That project’s Kickstarter is currently underway, continuing until November 9th , 2018.
While the dialogue hits stilted snags in a few places, it’s largely effective and reinforces the character outlines with clear, individual voices. Geoff Weber’s art also strikes a singular and atypical chord, clearly delineating the specific characters while maintaining a minimalist style. It requires some investment from the reader, and it can even be dismissed as a juvenile hash without taking time to consider it more carefully. It renders each cast member clearly and distinctly. Combined with the orchestrated text profile distinguishing each one, it achieves character recognition in a masterful way, a way not always achieved as well by high-profile scribes and artists in service of major comics factories. In this way, The Scientists elevates; it is not some mass production result, it’s a handcrafted original.
This becomes clear when considering the depth and dimension the simplistic art style achieves. In interviews, Weber has spoken on the power of dioramas, and he certainly calls upon that medium in his work here. For each panel comprised of simple lines, there are equal number reflecting a watercolor composition with perspective and shading that pulls you into the page. It may not be the easiest read on the shelves, but it may well be the most rewarding.
While the creators have given an admirable amount of connectivity to their protagonists, investing readers in who they are and the challenges facing each whether its in their relationships to one another, their home lives, or something between the two, there is loss at the end of the book which feels slightly premature. We identify, but we don’t yet empathize deeply enough to feel the depth of the scene. It does, however, set the stakes for the seriousness of the genius’s situation. And maybe that’s sufficient. Book Two will hopefully expand our relationships with the primary cast to achieve that affinity. The groundwork has certainly been laid for that next phase. Foundationed so effectively, in fact, that it’s clearly inspired others with its spirit of dangerous discovery. Book One includes a beautiful Scientists art/cover variants section by other creatives. As it stands, The Scientists Part One: The Prodigies is an engaging introduction to perilous adventure where only the smartest will endure, gaining with each challenge the wisdom that makes intellect matter.
Written by Trent Beckett with Geoff Weber.
Illustrated & Lettered by Geoff Weber.
6.5 out of 10