Making my way around Artist Alley at the LA Comic Con (I still personally prefer the “Stan Lee’s Comikaze” name) I encountered a lot of artists and writers promoting their independent books. I’ve recently begun to enjoy independent works so much more than any of the bigger publishers, especially Marvel and DC. That’s another rant for another article, but I love walking around and seeing people passionate about their owner created projects, and their owner created characters, and my brief conversation with writer Madeleine Holly-Rosing definitely sold me on her passion project, Boston Metaphysical Society.
Originally released in 2013, Boston Metaphysical is kind of like a mix of Ghostbusters, Men in Black, and The Prestige in terms of concept and style. The story takes place in 1895, and a secret group of brilliant minded inventors called B.E.T.H imbue their world with gadgetry and concepts with a Steampunk flare. Caitlin O’Sullivan takes the place of her father as residential spirit photographer alongside former detective turned paranormal investigator Samuel Hunter. I’m starting with Chapter 1, and I have to say this book moves super fast. I think this is a good time to segue into my biggest gripe with the book; it doesn’t take its time building the universe. After my initial read-through, I had no idea what B.E.T.H actually does, I only have clues that come in the form of their founders, Alexander Graham, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Harry Houdini. If you want to know why these people are working together, or the origin of B.E.T.H, these questions do not get answered in Chapter 1. Everything is left vague, which is fine, you don’t have to blatantly spill the beans on everything all at once, but a little more insight into B.E.T.H and the characters would have been beneficial.
The only other issue I have with the book is how the character of Sam Hunter treats Caitlin O’Sullivan. At first shows great reluctance in hiring her to replace her Father, but by the end of the book he’s very gung-ho about it. This doesn’t really feel earned. It would have worked better if Caitlin showed a great tenacity and drive, but her character just kind of goes along with things. I feel like Sam should have either been worn down by her persistence, or she should have shown abilities beyond the realm of anything he had ever seen before which, in turn, forced him to reevaluate his original stance on working with her.
Emily Hu, and colorists Gloria Caeli and Fahriza Kamaputra do a fantastic job building the world visually…for the most part. There’s some very sharp panels early on when they encounter the wraith, but the right after that there’s this panel where characters are at a funeral and the art is really rough; no clear text on the headstone, and one character even lacks a face, it’s just sketch lines. Hu is a talented artists, it’s just that I find a lot of inconsistencies with her details in a few panels. The way she draws characters and movement is very reminiscent of anime. Caeli and Kamaputra deserve a great deal of credit as well, their choices really set a tone evocative of the time period and setting; they use brown, cool blues, and rusty reds to sell the world visually.
I enjoyed the book quite a bit. We don’t know much about the characters at this juncture, but at the very least they come off as charming and likeable which makes it you want to read on. The book is fast paced and an easy read, and there’s no horrifying imagery or foul language that would prevent me from recommending it to younger readers. The book builds upon a very cool premise, and I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing Chapter Two sometime in the very near future.
To find out more about the book, visit the website: http://bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com/