Monday, August 20, 2012

Five Fists of Science

A sort of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in a historical vein, The Five Fists of Science is basically a steampunk adventure where Nikola Tesla, Mark Twain, and Bertha von Suttner combine forces to bring about world peace by sharing giant robots with every nation. Their adversaries, including Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and Guglielmo Marconi rise up against them, building an ominous structure called the Innsmouth Tower (a reference to the works of HP Lovecraft, a writer of fantastic and horrific fiction), a cauldron of black magic that threatens humanity and freedom. Tesla and his allies combat this menace using their wits and piloting giant metal robot warriors. Seeing Mark Twain fight Thomas Edison using a giant rock-em sock-em robot is a pretty fantastic and unexpected delight.

This rollicking volume is the creation of Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders. Fraction is a longtime writer most known for his work on the Marvel Comics characters Iron Man, Thor, and Iron Fist as well as his creator-owned sci-fi/superspy series Casanova. Sanders is a commercial artist and occasional comic book artist who has mostly worked on X-Men spin-offs and S.W.O.R.D. for Marvel Comics. Fraction talks more about the creation of FFoS in this interview.

The reviews for The Five Fists of Science has been pretty positive. Jog called it "fun, very fast, very light, and probably worth seeking out for those who dig the idea of turn-of-the-century historical personalities thrust into a comedic action/sci-fi plot, with a cup of Lovecraft poured on top, drizzled with anime kitsch." Mitro of the Alternative History Weekly Update wrote about the book's accuracy, "While the personalities of the villains may have been tweaked, Twain's humor and Tesla's quirks were effectively captured and Bertha worked well as the cliche hot steampunk girl." Jamie S. Rich wrote that it "isn't a perfect graphic novel," but it is still a "good ol' pulpy adventure with familiar faces living out the roles we always imagined they could." Comics Should Be Good's Brian Cronin found some faults with the book as well, including that "the final confrontation seemed a bit rushed...but that doesn’t detract from most of the comic, which was action-packed, fun and funny."

This graphic novel was published by Image Comics. A black and white preview is available here from Fraction. The actual book is in color.

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