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Five Fists of Science: A Review

Of late I have spent large spans of time looking at my site stats section of my blog in despair. Sad to see that my page views haven’t taken off in the numbers I was hoping. While I have been busy the past few months and not posting as often, I still feel guilty that this has been unproductive in the sense of the attention it receives. I thought of two ways to fix this: First, post more often. Second, go back to my roots and post comic reviews. While I had this short-run with posts called ‘Comic Catch-Up,’ it’s the individual reviews that do the most justice for the works (and my page views).

To jump start this review trend is The Five Fists of Science. I was lured to this work because of the focus on both Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain fighting evil, but also historical, figures in a pulp pseudo-horror fashion. I was further intrigued when I learned that Matt Fraction wrote it. When I finally got around to reading it I had mixed opinions. Why? Well…

I’ll start with the bad before the good. As being a short-ish work there are some issues in the narrative. Hiccups in dialogue or panel transitions that would cause to be re-read a section again (or numerous times) to understand what what was going on. While these mistakes are few they’re incredibly distracting when they do happen.

However, my biggest complaint about the work is the art. While it’s dark and atmospheric at times, it’s also sort of doesn’t match the tone for me. The work matches the tone for the more intense scenes, but doesn’t justify the lighter ones that take up the first half of the book. Maybe this is an issue of taste for me, but I felt that there was some issues in the art department in that regard. But that’s not my largest problem with the art. While the tone can be blamed on my own taste, the line work on characters isn’t (or less so at least). Much of the lines outlining something aren’t cleaned. It feels very rough and sort of sketchy (no pun intended). It gives the whole work an unpolished quality to it. Like they were in the stages of finishing the work when the publisher sent it out. It doesn’t seem top quality to me. With all these negative qualities was there anything I liked about it?

Yes. In fact, I feel like the good parts outweigh the negative. First off, the characters are great. Or at least the protagonists. The villains have some good qualities, but they’re just alright. But Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla are fun to read in this work. Their natural personalities make for interesting characters and the story molds around them nicely. The story itself is fairly decent, but each part is done well. The intense parts are intense. The comedic parts, probably my personal highlight, are quite funny. It all plays out quite nicely. And while my list of compliments is shorter than my grievances I feel like they’re personally stronger.

The Five Fists of Science is a work I would more easily recommend to those who are into the pulp pseudo-horror style of comics, or those who drawn into the idea of Nikola Tesla or Mark Twain fighting evil. While it’s far from a perfect work, it’s good for the most part and if you like those two elements I just listed I suggest you check it out at the least.

The Five Fists of Science was written by Mark Waid with art by Steven Sanders. It’s published by Image Comics.

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