Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: The Five Fists of Science

The Five Fists of Science (graphic novel)
 By Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders

Published: 2006

Synopsis (via GoodReads): True story: in 1899, Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla decided to end war forever. With Twain's connections and Tesla's inventions, they went into business selling world peace. So, what happened? Only now can the tale be told - in which Twain and Tesla collided with Edison and Morgan, an evil science cabal merging the Black Arts and the Industrial Age. Turn of the century New York City sets the stage for a titanic battle over the very fate of mankind.

The Five Fists of Science infuses fun, science, mad characters and giant robots to create an extremely enjoyable steampunk-ish graphic novel. The creators, Fraction and Sanders, appropriate some well-known members of the scientific, creative and political scenes to act out their wild tale that is only slightly based in fact. On the good side you have Mark Twain, the fast-talking, money hungry writer/salesman, Nikola Tesla, the shy and quiet scientific genius with OCD and Bertha Von Suttner, a rather proper radical, who attempt to manipulate and scare the world leaders into peace with their Tesla-made and operated robotic monster thing (and make a bunch of money with it at the same time). On the other side you have the dastardly Thomas Edison and his personal scientist monkey boy, the always hungry Guglielmo Marconi.

It's an incredibly short read which is a little disappointing as the ending seems to come a little too soon, but definitely an enjoyable one. The infusion of fact and fiction and the joyful character assassination and manipulation of some of the 19th century's best known characters makes for an interesting tale that almost forces you to pick up a history book or jump on google to work out what, if anything, is factually correct.

The accompanying pictures are of a fantastic quality, very detailed and expressive, but they fall slightly to the dark side occasionally and sometimes it can be a little hard to discern the details.The addition of the steampunk element works incredibly well with the 19th century setting and the scientific nature of the tale. 

Overall I thought it was a fun read, a little too short for my liking but the amusing characterisation of those 19th century landmark members of society more than makes up for that.

Rating: 3.5/5

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