“Strange Attractors,” a new graphic novel published by Archaia Entertainment, is the perfect thing for all us out there who love New York City and what it means to love New York City. You may not be crushing on NYC the way I am, but you may be into sci-fi or a good mystery or a gritty adventure so that may be reason for you to pick up this book. Yes, it does help to appreciate the Big Apple too. But, here’s the thing about the Big Apple that may turn around anyone on the fence. The thing about it is that it defies easy categorization. It transcends any label. In a world where it seems like everything is within easy reach within a gadget, you still have a metropolis that is so multi-layered that you can never fully understand it. If you’re not the curious sort, then NYC can’t help you. But, if you have an inquisitive mind, you will quickly pick up on the fact that a whole universe awaits your exploration.
It is this kind of enthusiasm for New York City that creator Charles Soule brings to this work. Soule marveled over the fact that, within a year after the tragic events of 9/11, New York City was back on its feet and functioning while, years after Katrina, New Orleans continued to struggle. What was so special about NYC? It has known some colossal setbacks. In 1975, for example, the city was on the brink of bankruptcy. There’s that famous headline from The Daily News after Pres. Ford denied NYC a federal bailout: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” And after several disasters, NYC has always managed to bounce back. This led to “Strange Attractors,” that proposes that there are forces at work that keep such a complex organism as NYC functioning properly. Our story features Dr. Spencer Brownfield, a seemingly mad scientist, who sure looks like he knows more about what keeps NYC alive and thriving than is humanly possible to know.
But Brownfield must be on the right track. He’s a genius, after all. That’s what Heller Wilson keeps telling himself. He’s a brilliant grad student, studying Complexity Theory, at Columbia who has managed to track down the legendary Brownfield, who was ousted from Columbia some thirty years ago. If Brownfield is starting to sound like Doc Brown and Heller is starting to sound like Marty McFly, that’s a good thing. There is definitely that sort of fun chemistry while working within a moody and intellectual atmosphere. If you enjoy offbeat comics, yeah, this is for you.
Artist Greg Scott and writer Charles Soule make a great team. The chemistry between them reminds me of stuff like writer Brett Lewis and artist John Paul Leon’s “The Winter Men,” published by DC Comics under their Wildstorm imprint. It is a similar case of a story with an intricate plot that keeps all the little details running smoothly for the reader through engaging dialogue and a quirky gritty realism. You find that you’ve entered a world that you want to be a part of.
Heller Wilson has one close friend, Tim, a host of a local radio station and self-appointed kingmaker to local bands. Heller and Tim could spend the rest of their lives together discussing the finer points of pop music. Enter Grace, a soccer coach at Columbia and Heller’s chance at a happy life now and maybe in the future. And then Heller has to go and cross paths with Doc Brown and his life feels less and less his own.
There are few warm and fuzzy moments here although the mission at hand, to help save the city from itself, is pretty fanciful. But that’s how this story rolls. At every step of the way, Heller gets dragged deeper and deeper into Doc Brownfield’s mathematically calculated random acts of kindness. The acts themselves sure look random and not particularly kind but, based on the complexity theory, the cause and effect of each of these acts is essential. And the stakes keep getting higher and the crazy acts keep getting crazier. Only in New York, right? That’s a big part of this book. There are certain leaps of faith that must be taken, especially for the sake of such a city.
Visit our friends at Archaia Entertainment. “Strange Attractors” is a 152-page graphic novel, priced at $19.95. Check out “Strange Attractors” here.