The cover of Top Cow's Think Tank, created by writer Matt Hawkins and artist Rahsan Ekedal, makes the bold claim that reading this book will make you smarter. While that may certainly be specious, it was enough to get me to try their series about a science genius working for a U.S. government cutting-edge weapons lab who has lost will for the gig but not his will to be a smart ass.
There's a strong element of Real Genius in this set-up – we've got Dr. David Loren, the hot-shot young genius who graduated Cal Tech in his teens and his more tightly-wound compandre Dr. Mannish Pavi working for a military project called DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) where they're developing high-tech solutions for typical kill-kill-kill style problems. Colonel Mark Harrison is newly in charge of harassing Loren into living up to his reputation, but the trouble is that Loren's had a Schindler's List epiphany and really doesn't want to make things that kill people anymore. Thus, Loren is trying to find away out of this life he signed up for when he was an easily-wowed teenager who didn't know any better.
Loren is just on the right side of likeable. He's a gamer/slacker dude with a cocky attitude about everything, one of those smarter-than-thou pricks who could easily be someone you'd rather see crushingly defeated than win in the end, but he's got just enough humanity and humility about his status that we can get behind him in his struggle against the chains he's put himself in when he was 14.
Think Tank #2 came out this week, and it continues the story from the first issue, where Loren swiped a big-time battery from one of his colleagues to power his smart-phone looking surface-thought-reader, which he promptly used in town to read the thoughts of a girl what thought he was cute and bedded her – and the next morning woke up to find that not only did he regret inventing something that invades the privacy of the mind, but also that the military is waiting in force outside her front door to put him under house arrest. Thus, it prompts Loren and his disillusioned and devalued friend Pavi to start work on an escape plan.
We get more backstory for Loren, his recruitment from the creepy-looking General Clarkson and the turning point in his mindset when he helped fix a weapon that fired 16,000 bulllets per second, ostensibly for defensive use to shred enemy ordinance, but was "also good for crowd control." The stuff that gives him enough regret and earnestness to get excited about his cocksure cavalierness on the surface when he subverts everything around him.
The black and white art from Ekedal is pretty well done, managing to bring home the horrors of war without the striking colors of it. The eyes we look into in each panel are very real, and the level of detail in the backgrounds and each face is quite impressive. I don't know if it's made me smarter, but Think Tank is a pretty cool book, and well worth your time to check out.