Written by Charles Soule
Illustrated by Greg Scott
Colors by Art Lion & Matthew Petz
Letters by Thomas Mauer
Cover by Dan Duncan
Complexity Maps by Robert Saywitz
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Cover Price: $19.95
Every once in a great while I stumble upon a book or comic that truly amazes me. Whether it is the artwork or the storyline, sometimes I am simply flabbergasted. Strange Attractors has made it onto this short list. I read it the same afternoon that it arrived but found myself reading it again the next day. I’ve already loaned it out to a friend, something I seldom do, because the graphic novel is just that good and needs to be shared with the world.
Combining science fiction and mathematics, the story revolves around complexity theory as it applies to the metropolis of New York City. Basically, this means that every small action creates a chain reaction that affects the greater whole. The main character, Heller Wilson, is a young man working towards his postgraduate degree on this very concept. He seeks out a former professor from Columbia University, a Doctor Spencer Brownfield, who was a known expert on the subject before leaving his teaching position under mysterious circumstances.
After their initial conversation, Heller finds himself both witness and assistant to the plans of Brownfield. Years of planning and preemptive actions on his part have yielded excellent results, according to the ex-professor. Claiming that his knowledge of complexity theory has averted disaster after disaster for the last twenty-five years, Brownfield begins to involve Heller in his day to day activities to show him how his work affects the Big Apple. Skeptical at first, Heller slowly finds himself entranced by the seemingly trivial actions having a profound effect on the city’s systems and it’s denizens.
As Heller slowly becomes more immersed in the world of Brownfield’s quest to protect the city, he also finds himself drawing away from the things he holds dearest, such as the woman the loves and the New York music scene. Becoming almost obsessive with understanding how complexity theory works so well on such a large scale, he neglects his old life while hesitantly embracing the new role that has been created for him. Eventually he finds himself a pivotal part of Brownfield’s work and this crossroads it an obvious turning point in the story. The ending is perfectly structured to appease even the hardest to please reader. I thoroughly enjoyed myself from start to finish.
Charles Soule brings a very complicated plot to life. I’m reminded of two films when reading this, The Butterfly Effect and A Beautiful Mind. The first film because it is obviously the same concept, a butterfly effect is nothing more than a pretty name for chaos theory. And I liken this story to the latter film because of the obsessive manner of Doctor Brownfield (and later Heller, himself). But in no way am I accusing Soule of pulling from these films. No, he obviously penned this himself from start to finish, all the small details that intertwine in the plot are definitely from his brilliant imagination.
The masterful work of Greg Scott leaves the reader feeling as if they are in the city with the characters, so realistic is the setting. Truly embodying The City That Never Sleeps, landmarks and people seem as if you are bearing witness to an actual moment in time as opposed to an artist’s rendering. Amazing art with a great coloring team, composed of Art Lyon and Matthew Petz, really makes the “graphic” part of graphic novel exceptional.
No doubt about it, this one is a must buy. Archaia Entertainment has some great books out there and this one is at the top of the pile. Don’t miss out on what will probably be one of my favorite comics of the year. It’s available in comic shops and bookstores nationwide. Or you can get it online here if you prefer that method. No matter how you find it, I encourage you to do so. There’s no superpowers or magic in the story, it is just a perfectly conceived graphic novel with more than a touch of panache.