Writer Matt Hawkins has created an interesting situation: Dr. David Loren, genius, creator extraordinaire, and DARPA employee/prisoner is growing increasingly conflicted about the death and destruction caused by his inventions. A large portion of this first issue is devoted to exposition, giving us David’s history and point of view via his internal monologue, but all of the information about the past is delivered parallel to David’s current activities, keeping the story from feeling bogged down by the weight of its back story. There is a lot to digest in this book, make no mistake, but Hawkins expertly steers you through the workings of this DARPA think tank, introducing well-crafted characters and giving you just enough information about them to want to know more. Plus, I did learn a little about theoretical science, but since the plot sort of hinges on what David develops, I won’t spoil anything. The central conceit of Think Tank that seems to be developing is one of internal conflict: David loves the act of creation, especially when it’s a challenge, so DARPA’s “wish list” of science-fiction devices motivates him to make these fantastic gadgets a reality. And yet, his growing moral discontent is seemingly driving him to sabotage his own success, so as to prevent his work from being used to destroy. It’s an interesting philosophical quandary, and it serves as a compelling reason to care about David’s situation. In addition to that central conflict, the groundwork for several more ethical dilemmas has been laid, giving the impression that Hawkins has plenty of stories to tell in this world he has created.
On the artwork side of things, Rahsan Ekedal has done a solid job of crafting a grounded and realistic feel to the book that still manages to show off the title's eccentricities. The black and white style stands in stark contrast to the world of Think Tank, which is anything but. My one gripe is that the characters’ facial features seem very manga-inspired, while the rest of the art is not, so the end result can sometimes look a bit incongruous. It’s a minor concern, though, and it’s ameliorated by the expressive body language, which is handled nicely.
All in all, while Think Tank #1 is just beginning to develop its narrative, there is a lot to enjoy within these pages. If you’re looking for a more cerebral and grounded comic that manages to examine some pretty heavy ethical issues while still remaining fun and exciting, I would recommend giving Think Tank a try.