In contrast with the continuing lack of diversity in Hollywood blockbusters (look at the infographics here), comics remain a place where interested readers can find protagonists who don’t all seem to be issued from the white/straight/male factory that churns out said blockbusters. That one reason would be enough for the arrival of a new mini-series with a gay protagonist to be good news, but fortunately, there are more reasons to enjoy Brainstorm #11.
In the near future, Cale Isaacs is a young scientist who’s working on a way to control and disperse the devastating tornadoes that have been ravaging the USA, with global weather becoming more and more unstable. After one successful trial, he’s summarily ejected from the project by its ruling body, namely the US military. The rest of the issue follows two threads, with the general now in charge launching another test of the new technology (guess what happens) and with Isaacs coming back home to his dysfunctional family. All that sounds more or less par for the course, though the pacing and the art are good. What was less predictable is the fact that Isaacs is gay, an aspect of his personality that’s treated in a matter-of-fact way.
The wide-screen feel of the story (which is completely intentional, since the published describes it as a “potential feature film project”) is nicely complemented by the small-scale, personal issues that Isaacs has to face, such as the loss of his brain-child and his estrangement from his own family. I really appreciated the way his gayness is introduced, with mentions of his love life preceding the qualification.
There are other things I liked in the introductory issue, especially the fact that this isn’t an anti-science story, on the contrary. An afterword with a meteorologist insists on the problems caused by global climate change, and Isaacs is not shown as a mad scientist but as a driven young man whose contributions to science are denied. Writers Ira Livingston IV and Jeffrey Morris have certainly done their homework regarding the real-world aspect of their story, while introducing sci-fi elements that are well integrated.
Artist Dennis Calero is someone whose work I’d seen on early issues of Marvel’s X-Factor (the Peter David series), and here he offers a very realistic style—almost too realistic for my tastes, since I preferred his slightly more cartoony work on X-Factor. He also does his own colors here, using a limited palette in most panels, for a very effective result.
Brainstorm is off to an interesting start. I hope the creators will keep combining the large-scale and the personal in an effective way, and that we’ll get to know more about Isaacs’s love-life, which seems as unstable as his beloved tornadoes.