Nowhere Men, the Image series from Eric Stephenson and Nate Bellegarde, is a fascinating look at the notion of science as "the new rock and roll." I've talked it up in the past as one of the most interesting new series of 2013, and one of the ways it works is that it never reminds you that you're reading a comic book. There are no ads (save for the ones shilling products that only exist in the Nowhere Men universe), and it uses both the front and back inside covers to tell its story, tucking the credits on the outside back cover. It also makes liberal use of alternative storytelling techniques, such as faux magazine articles to deliver exposition and introduce new characters without bogging down the character work with it.
In the spirit of that tactic, instead of another general review this week, here are five things we love about Nowhere Men #5.
5 Things We Love About Esme
Case in point – there's an "Enquire" article in the middle of the book called "5 Things We Love About Esme," which introduces us to the head of Trans Lunar, one of "the top five science groups on the scene today." We get a sense of her public perception, which is something of a mix of Angelina Jolie and Aishwarya Rai, except she's also a supremely brilliant astrophysicist who wants to engineer a network of wormholes to facilitate interstellar travel. Almost instantly, we can't wait for her to show up and do something.
Keen Scientific Observation
Social commentary and deductive reasoning.
Dade Ellis Can Read Your Mind
The central focus of the series has been around World Corp, founded by a quartet of rockstar scientists with popular clout enough to rival The Beatles. In fact, Emerson Strange looked a lot like John Lennon back in the day. In truth, it's not exactly a one-to-one comparison between the respective Fab Fours, especially since none of the Beatles have ever been as unflinchingly callous as Simon Grimshaw (we'll get to that). The case could be made for Dade Ellis to be the George Harrison, though – a moral center between the dueling Strange and Grimshaw, the real attention-getters (although Thomas Walker's completely drugged-out wandering off from the group has its fair share of gawkers, too). Ellis had been bedridden for quite some time, leaving Strange alone to run World Corp, as Grimshaw had long since left, tired of being hamstrung by silly things like ethics. We feared the worse for Dade, but he's now arisen, feeling better than ever… and he woke up a telepath. The whole time he was sick, he was absorbing information, and now he's about to right all the wrongs Strange has committed while he was out of it. Or so it seems.
Black Matter Lady
One of those mistakes Strange made was secreting away a space station to apparently test some superhuman-ifying viral agents on some unwitting subjects, and it's all going weird. Each person seems to be reacting in different ways. There's a person who can phase, a guy who turned into a big red monster, a guy with an odd form of telekinesis centered around speed – and then there's Susan. She got into a containment suit after escaping the space station quarantine, and promptly just kind of exploded into black goo, which now bubbles and churns in the suit. Seemingly alive, but looking supremely creepy as a human shaped bubble of tar. It's really unsettling, the way this is unfolding. Imagine if Susan turns out to just be a living puddle forever – not some liquid-shaped lady with the power of slime, but her entire existence is trapped as a sludge blob, unable to communicate or even really function. It's unnerving.
Simon Grimshaw is an Unmitigated Bastard
This is no Beatle. This is the primary bastardry from day one out of Grimshaw, Callous, arrogant logic without any mind paid to ethics or humanity. Advocating eugenics and refusing to cure disease. Good gravy, this guy's a bastard, and we can't wait for him to get what's coming to him. But Nowhere Men is in no way a typical book, so we have no idea if that will ever happen. In fact, we never have any idea what's going to happen in this book, and that's part of what makes it a must-read.