Book of the Month

Book of the Month – Strange Attractors

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

28
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.3
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 0.0%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Strange Attractors
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Greg Scott

Size: 128 pages
Price: 19.95

 

The following review is completely biased. I need you to know that going in. But from where I sit, that’s a dumb reason not to talk about a book, as long as my admiration is sincere. So why not be up front about it all?

Charles Soule? I know the guy. I’ve known him since before 27 came out from Image a number of years back. I loved the concept, and we got to talking somewhere, and we kind of never stopped. He’s like a big deal now, writing a whole bunch of regular series from Marvel and DC, and many readers are getting to know him for the first time. This is good. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, or one more committed to putting out quality comics. If these are reasons to disregard a review, then peace be unto you, and thanks for coming.

We clear?

photo 3

I have a very strange relationship with New York City. It’s definitely a love/hate thing. I lived there for about six years (In Queens, but still…), and by the time I left, let’s just say I never want to live there again. However, there was a reason I wanted to live there, and there’s a reason I’m proud to have done so, and there’s still something magical about the place that makes it the focus of so many stories, songs, poems, paintings, pictures, stories, and legends. There is nothing else like it on earth, and there’s a distinct difference in media about the city that really understands it, and those that don’t. Charles Soule loves New York City. I didn’t know what kind of story this was going to be, but when I got to the end, it was immediately apparent that this is a love letter to a place that is more than just a place.

SA_Subway

That concept, that the city is anything but just a spot on a map, is the germ for Strange Attractors. Like the city itself, the book is both very complex and very simple at the same time. Imagine all the people in the city, and all the complicated machinery of the city that sustains and supports that strange urban organism. Now imagine that all of it can be mapped mathematically. Can’t imagine it? Read the book. It’s what the whole thing is about.

Artist Greg Scott turns out to be the perfect partner for Soule. The first thing I noticed is that he has a real knack for drawing people. Should be an obvious skill for a comic book artist, but he wasn’t granted the shortcut of costumes and uniforms to identify people. He just gets a bunch of regular looking people. Some are male, some female, some old, and some younger, but mostly they’re just folks. But they look like real folks, and they’re always discernible in the same way they would be if they were standing in a room with you. The art almost looks photorealistic, but doesn’t suffer from the odd stiffness of traced linework. At the same time, the biggest character in the book might be the city itself, which is what really impressed me. It might be safe to say that New York City is the most often drawn geographic location in comic book history. But the city that Scott portrays here is the real one, as opposed to the post card version. Because it takes place on the ground, as opposed to “in the skyline”, you get a real sense of place, because I have stood in those places he is drawing, and I have lived in the places he is showing me. It is a thankless task to feel of a place that is so familiar, but also so hard to pin down the feeling of. Every single exterior shot is jam packed with the ephemera of the city world, which is always full, always moving, all the time. This guy has been there. This guy knows what he’s portraying, and this guy is putting every slightly grimy bit directly on the page, in wonderful, brushy ink. It might be my favorite thing about the book.

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I don’t have to love New York City in the same way as Charles Soule to appreciate the intensity of his affection coming through on every page. It’s so easy to be cynical and look at the worst part of the thing that is that city, but the writer doesn’t let that happen. In the end, we see its best face. It’s a story of hope and optimism, and it might even ring a little bit schmaltzy, but it doesn’t matter, because idealism, when mixed with sincerity is a winning combination. I finished the book, and I smiled, and I thought, “Yes! I am so glad there are people who feel like this about that place, because it would fall down if not for them.” I don’t know if that was the point of the story, but it damn well ought to be.  Strange Attractors is intelligent, exciting, and sincere. It makes me want to go back and just walk through some city neighborhood I’ve never been in, and breathe it in. It made me, who drove out of the city faster than was safe in a moving truck that size, want to be there, and find what it is that the creators captured in this book. It made me want to walk some neighborhood I’ve never been in (in spring or fall, never summer), and drink in the sounds and sights of a place that is more than a place.

Josh Flanagan
I will admit to some small affection for the place. Small.
josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. phess1 phess1 says:

    This book sounds like it was written for someone like me.

  2. gobo gobo says:

    Excellent pick, loved this in digital issues

  3. Parri Parri (@pazzatron) says:

    I remember Soule talking about this on an iFanboy podcast a while back (when he moved to Swamp Thing?) and thought it sounded interesting. Definitely adding this one to the to-buy list.

  4. Rory426 says:

    Bought this because of Josh’s interview with Soule, and loved it. I live in the UK and I’ve never been to the US never mind New York, but it’s such a great story in and of itself, and it sets the tone of the story’s importance within the place, that I don’t think you need to know anything particular going in. That said, I can imagine if you live(d) in New York, it would surely add an extra personal dimension for you, as a graphic novel about Manchester would for me. Can’t recommend this book much more highly.

    • Oh man! I love Manchester! I’m from Germany, but have a lot of friends in Britain. You don’t have a bad city yourself! Can’t compare it to NY since I never went there, but as far as europe goes, Manchester is a great city! After London its the place I visit the most frequently! Love it!

  5. Elementaljj says:

    Great book. Charles is a great writer. His Swamp Thing does a great job following up such an absurd epic with a great little adventure tale and Strange Attractors has to be one of my favorite OGNs of all time. Bangarang sir, bangarang.

  6. Kaboom Kaboom says:

    I loved this book front to back. I heard about it on one of the special edition podcsts ya’ll did talking to him when he took over Swamp Thing. I kept an eye out for it to be collected and I’ve read it three times since I got it a couple months ago. I also got to meet him at HeroesCon in Charlotte back in June and he is one of the nicest and coolest guys I’ve met at a Con. I also picked up another book he did “Strongman” that was also great.

  7. martinNL martinNL says:

    Great choice!! Lovely read indeed.

  8. Sherlock19 Sherlock19 says:

    Nice! I picked up all the issues digitally. After hearing about Charles Soule on your podcast and Word Balloon, I gave it a go and was not disappointed.

  9. aappellet says:

    Loved this book. Really cool story line and concept.

  10. PraxJarvin PraxJarvin says:

    Nabbed this and MIND MGMT from a tradein a few weeks ago. Need to get on both, but this really makes me want to read Strange Attractors! “Be biased with your bad self, Flanagan” to use a 90s-ism.

  11. Neb Neb says:

    I picked this up on a whim at the shop and really enjoyed. I didn’t quite fall in love with the art, but it never got in the way either.

  12. callthisrational callthisrational (@givexitxaxgo) says:

    Perfect book. I was hoping this would get BotM.

  13. ilovecomics says:

    Mr Soule is a really talented writer. Swamp thing never missed a beat when Snyder left it. If anything it is an improvement. I think he is also starting Red Lanterns with Guy Gardner soon.. I will be picking that up a long with this Graphic Novel. Thanks Mr Flanagan.