If you’re looking for caped crusaders, Strange Attractors is not the book for you. If you’re looking for an intelligent mystery that blends near-probable scientific theories a la Dr. Ian Malcolm of Jurassic Park, with an unabashed love for New York City, then you’re in luck.
Strange Attractors is a fascinating read through and through, presenting high concept theoretical physics to readers in a way that’s believable, if not entirely possible. The hero(es) of Strange Attractors may be brilliant but at the end of the day, they’re just people trying to prevent the collapse of an iconic city, in ways they still can’t quite comprehend. Mixing science and basic human interactions/relationships, the book also explores control; the way different people cope with a surplus or lack thereof.
Heller Wilson is a graduate student working on a thesis that will land him an excellent job, but the work no longer mentally stimulates him. Despite that detail, he has the perfect girlfriend, great friends, and is about to start a successful career. Of course, this is when things get complicated. Wilson meets Dr. Spencer Brownfield, a man who claims to have saved New York City from the brink of destruction in 1978, through minor acts of what seem to be chaos. Brownfield turns Wilson’s world upside down with his theories, and they quickly fall into the master/student relationship, complete with the student’s disbelief at the teacher’s odd methods. Taking a crash course in complexity math, Brownfield is prepping Wilson to be his successor, the new savior of New York, before the city’s chaos crashes in on itself.
It’s a fascinating concept that is best explained by reading the book. There are more than a few surprises throughout, including one twist that was both visually stunning and a total mind-trip. Although he’s not the most glamorous hero in comics, Wilson is a strong character readers can empathize with, despite his brilliance. Charles Soule has created a believable world for this hero to step up and save the day, using nothing more than his intelligence, careful planning and some help from his friends. Greg Scott’s art suits the story well, with lovely paintings by Robert Saywitz and colours by Art Lyon bringing New York to life. A unique feature in any book, Strange Attractors has some fold out pages to showcase a particularly gorgeous abstract scene. The way Archaia pays close attention to these kind of details in their books is a huge part of what makes the hardcover edition of Strange Attractors a must buy. Interesting story, great art and excellent design that form an object of beauty– something oft overlooked in a world of weekly floppies.