Written by O’Brian Gunn
Life would be a lot easier if you were a certified genius, right? You’d probably have an easier time getting the job you want (or at least the experience necessary for the job you want), you’d likely have a higher salary and the standard of living that comes with it, and it would be a breeze to think of the name of the many songs that pop into your head at random times. In Genius, main character and physicist Ted Marx has a different take on what it means to be a genius. His particular work and home life situations lead him to consider stealing a secret idea from one of the most notable geniuses in history, Einstein himself.
Growing up, Ted Marx had a natural aptitude for learning and grasping concepts that left even the most intelligent of students bewildered. Even though he skipped grades, he still found himself bored. While he was a mental genius, Ted lacked emotional intelligence, which means that when it came to matters of the heart, Ted practically had a learning disability. Fast-forward a few decades and we find Ted married with two kids and working at a think tank with several other geniuses. Even though he excelled in school, he finds himself stagnating in the working world when he’s no longer the smartest person in his zip code. With his job on the line if he can’t come up with a new idea, Ted turns to his elderly father-in-law, Francis, (who lives with him and his family at home), who served as Einstein’s bodyguard. Apparently, Einstein told Francis a dangerous secret, one that could be what Ted needs to secure his job.
(One of the things I enjoyed most about this short read was the artwork. Teddy Kristiansen has a simple style, but his blend of inks, pencils and watercolors helps bring the story to life and set the mood. Subtle shifts in font and visual style act as great scene changers. This is one reason I love reading graphic novels and comics from smaller and lesser-known publishers, to explore more of the infinite possibilities of using this particular medium to tell a story. That’s definitely not to say that the artwork released by major publishers is trash, just that you’re usually free to be a bit more experimental with your storytelling when you’re working with a smaller publisher.
In regards to the writing, Steven T. Seagle does a competent job of weaving Ted’s story together, showing his struggles to connect with his teenage son, who seems to have inherited Ted’s intelligence, but has molded it into something much less refined, yet more emotionally insightful. There is a bit of a cliché to be found, which I won’t get into here. I’ll just say it’s a trope-fueled motivation for Ted doing everything possible to keep his job and doing anything he can to get Francis to reveal what Einstein told him. Make no mistake, this doesn’t take away from the narrative, I just thought it could have added a little something special to see Seagle provide Ted with a different catalyst for being pushed down into the murky depths of desperation. Seagle and Kristiansen both add a few other details that help make up for this particular issue.
Genius makes for a quick, simple and overall enjoyable read. Seagle and Kristiansen demonstrate that even the geniuses among us don’t always have the answers, or if they do, they aren’t always the right ones. So maybe life wouldn’t be so simple if you were a genius, you’d just live in a world where life’s struggles have the same IQ as you.
Page Length: 126 pgs
Recommend Buy New, Buy Used/On Sale, or Skip: Buy New
Next Up: Semiautomagic, written by Alex De Campi and illustrated by Jerry Ordway and Marissa Louisa. Professor Alice Creed is a techno-occult adventurer who slays monsters when she’s not skipping her own lectures. It’s Lovecraftian horror in a modern setting, brimming with an evil army of mannequins, demonic possession, and friends unstuck in time.