by Andy Wolverton
Four of the five stories in Beware… Volume One: Citizen Science take place in the town of Haven Hallows, where weird occurrences are cropping up with increasing frequency. All of these events are connected to some type of scientific weirdness. Mike D. Perkins (The Stand, Steed and Mrs. Peel) writes and Will Perkins (Angelica Tomorrow, Imaginary Drugs) draws most of the stories in this graphic novel which collects the first three issues of Beware… from the Philadelphia publisher 215 Ink.
“The Frogmen from Neptune” is a fun, entertaining story that recounts just what you’d imagine from its title, an invasion of frogmen who want to live peacefully among the residents of Haven Hallows…as long as they can steal their human children. In “Formula X,” a young scientist named Todd walks out on an experiment in progress to spend time with his girlfriend, which leads to some very unfortunate fungal events. “Progression” is a short, futuristic tale by Rolf Lejdegård that seems to have only a slight connection to the rest of the collection. The final story, “Planned Obsolescence,” is another short tale, one concerning technology and human responsibility.
The middle piece, “The Arrival of the Chrononauts,” is the best of the bunch. A young woman named Sally goes outside for a run, only to be yanked back into the nineteenth century, thanks to scientist named Gorton, who’s attempting to communicate with someone from the future. Sally wants no part of it and demands to be returned to the twenty-first century, but as Gorton explains, it’s just not that easy. While the other longer stories are good sci-fi fun, “Chrononauts” gives us characters we’d like to read more about. (Hopefully, we will.)
Citizen Science owes much to the science fiction pulp magazines and comics of half a century ago, with stories that feel very much at home in early sci-fi. What the Perkins have done, however, is integrate some actual scientific explanations (in the form of brief interludes marked “Beware… Science!”) as to what’s happening in the stories. Not being a science person, I don’t know how factual the explanations are, but I thought they were fun, and I’m all for any inclusion of science (real or imagined, but preferably real) into comics.
While they’re fun for the most part, some of the stories go on for too long and seem to spin their wheels a bit. With the exception of “The Arrival of the Chrononauts,” I would’ve preferred more stories that were slightly shorter, say seven or eight stories instead of five. Some stories seem longer than they actually are, mainly due to several pages containing cluttered panels and small, tight lettering. I like Will Perkins’s art style, which conveys character expression and emotion without an overabundance of detail, but too many panels are too small and too busy. I’d love to see some of the stories edited somewhat and Will given a little more panel space to allow the art to breathe.
I should also note that Beware… Volume One: Citizen Science may be hard to locate. I found it at my local comic shop, but it’s currently not available on Amazon. Surprisingly, it’s not even available on the 215 Ink website except in single issues. If you’re a fan of pulp science fiction, I think you’ll enjoy the collection. Although not perfect, Beware… Volume One: Citizen Science has a lot going for it and I hope to see more collaborations from Will and Mike Perkins.
Grab a single issue of Beware… as well as other 215 Ink publications: