Review: Jill Trent: Science Sleuth #1
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Charley Macorn (writer) and Matthew R. McDaniel (artist)
Adam Rowe (writer) and Kyle Roberts (artist)
She solves problems with science and her trusty partner Daisy, but how does this 1940s science sleuth translate for audiences today?
Jill Trent: Science Sleuth is the revival of the 1940s comic book character. The book follows the adventures of Jill and her partner Daisy as they solve quirky mysteries that involve science. Instead of the usual single issue and single storyline, Jill Trent Science Sleuth #1 is comprised of five mini mystery stories: “Science, Like Love,” “The Horror of the Huge Hamsters!,” “The Mystery of the Manifest Volcano,” “Hearts of Steel,” and “The Sinister Smokescreen.” Each story has its own creative team so the writing and art styles are quite different.
I’ve been intrigued by this comic since I wrote about its Kickstarter for WWAC Kickstarter of the Week. There’s so much to like about the concept. As always, I love the idea of more female characters in comics and more female characters who are scientists. Seriously, science is so amazing! As a woman in tech, I know how important it is to get and keep girls and young women interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). I love seeing more media that reinforces this notion, and I’m not the only one. The #distractinglysexy hashtag has taken over Twitter with photos of amazing strong female scientists. A tweet about Madame Curie had over 2,000 retweets!
Then there’s the educational hat tip to ye olde comics before the infusion of superheroes. And yes, some had women! Huge props for utilizing the public domain. As copyright laws become more and more tightfisted, it’s refreshing to see a great idea given new life. Allowing artists to share concepts and ideas helps foster more great ideas and more great work.
Hands down, my favorite part about the book is its character diversity. Each story has the likeness of Jill and Daisy re-imagined, giving the reader an option to really identify with the characters. In “Hearts of Steel,” Jill is a fancy frock-wearing black woman, and in “The Horror of the Huge Hamsters!,” she’s a glasses wearing redhead. As an Asian American, I appreciate the nod to Daisy as an Asian woman in “The Sinister Smokescreen,” but it felt a little flat to me. While the character art in the other stories were more modernized, this one felt dated, especially with Daisy in a cheongsam.
My favorite stories are “Science, Like Love” and “Hearts of Steel.” Those stories did a great job updating the 1940s characters for 2015, and both stories were transparent about Jill and Daisy’s romantic relationship. I wasn’t a fan of the B-movie titles as they tended to throw me off the mood. I admit I was intrigued by the huge hamsters, but I could have lived without the cheesy title. Some stories also suffered from too much “science talk.” It’s not exactly timey-wimey science mumbo jumbo, but more like too many science words strung together. It’s a book with a scientist and science is in the title, but I don’t necessary need to be beaten with the scientific terminology; I already know what I’m in for. Lastly, I was a teensy bit saddened by the lack of women on the creative teams; only two of the ten were women. For a book about these great female characters, I was hoping for more women behind the scenes.
Overall, I really like Jill Trent: Science Sleuth #1. I’m already scheming to see which young ladies I know “need” this book. I’m looking forward to more stories and more female scientists.