By Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal

Volume 4 of the fact-based science-fiction comic, Think Tank, arrives in stores later this month on September 28th, and fans couldn’t be happier. Those of you not already reading the book will be glad to hear that the issues collected in this trade – four total – serve as the perfect jumping-on point for the series. Writer, and Top Cow President, Matt Hawkins continues to impress us with his story about a child prodigy turned tech-genius government contractor. More than that, Think Tank continues to entertain us through the childish pranks, slacker-like attitude and womanizing exploits of lead character Dr. David Loren. Loren, who pushes the boundaries of high-tech warfare while simultaneously refusing to grow up, is as brilliant as he is immature. His characteristics serve as a vehicle for dramatic moments in a story otherwise focused on the industrial military complex’s potential for endless destruction. The book makes you think and wonder about science and the possibilities of the technological age shaping our future military operations. But it’s the character David Loren and his antics that keep this comic grounded in a more relatable world. Obviously, you don’t have to literally relate to the shamelessly oversexed and easily bored boy genius – living in an adult’s body – as Loren is portrayed, to appreciate the sitcom like quality that allows Think Tank to be informative yet lighthearted.

Rahsan Ekedal illustrates the book expertly. There’s no other way to say it, he’s an expert when it comes to Think Tank…this is his book. His characters are so fully realized you’d swear they’re actual people. On the surface, the book is a take on the level of autonomy the industrial military complex has achieved, but it’s the humans in this comic that stay true to the real world. Just about everything else Ekedal draws here is a step or two into our near future, but the people are as down to Earth and as typical as ever. No matter how advanced the world of Think Tank gets, actual people advance at a much slower pace, which may be the ultimate moral of the story. If technology outruns the human race then we have only ourselves to blame for creating it. But if that same technology serves to wipe out humanity then clearly the consequences of such advances in technology have been neglected. And it all comes to life thanks to Rashan Ekedal’s clean and legible style of art. His bright and vibrant colors provide us with a hyper real sense of believability. Although, as believable as Ekedal’s illustrations may be, what really sells the book is the manner in which he renders the surroundings – whether structures and vehicles meant for warfare, or for everyday life – and the blurred utilizations in between.

Hawkins and Ekedal give us as much information to absorb as they do moral questions to chew on. Think Tank is one of those books that, while not necessarily mainstream, will earn its spot on your pull list. You’ve got to respect a comic that does so much with this premise. The foundation they’ve established is clearly being built on and, as luck would have it, the next volume is already underway. So don’t hesitate to dive into Vol. 4 as soon as it hits stands. On the other hand, why wait? Go grab the earlier editions now and see what you’ve been missing. You’ll only be that much more informed.

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About The Author Matthew Strackbein

Matt Strackbein was born and raised in Maryland but has called Colorado home for the last 17 years where he lives happily in Longmont with his wife. He began reading comic books at the age of seven after discovering a silver age stash in his grandparents’ attic. Comic books inspired Matt to start drawing, which lead to a successful career as a commercial artist. He has worked in the apparel industry for many years as a production artist and designer. His accomplishments include designing backcountry skiwear for world-class athletes as well as downhill ski race suit designs for the 2014 Winter Olympics for the United States and Canadian national ski teams. Matt currently works as a freelance textile-print designer, but still dedicates time to his first love – comics. With over 200 letters to the editor published, Matt is a known letterhack. He self-publishes autobiographical comics about his struggles to break into the industry, which finally paid off when Dark Horse asked him to produce 2-page back up stories in recent issues of B.P.R.D. Besides his own comics, Matt collaborates on independent books as a colorist and letterer. He also teaches the art of making comics to students of all ages.