Review by Frank Plowright
Dr. Radium is Scott Saavedra’s all-purpose experimental scientist in a white lab coat, spurred by a thirst for knowledge across all scientific disciplines, curiosity personified, heedless to danger or basic humanity. If it’s science, it’s good by definition, and any experiments expand knowledge.
Saavedra twists the optimism of the 1950s when it seemed science would solve all problems with never a thought that it might cause worse. It led to what Dr. Radium considers his perfect world of tomorrow, where he can feed his assistant a grey powder just to see what it does to saliva, unfettered by ethical concerns.
Cheerful cartooning and strong design are Saavedra’s hallmarks over what are primarily two stories, but with many detours, including through time and space to a fantasy world where the cartoonist is goofing off. In the first Dr. Radium somewhat impulsively decides to travel back through time to prevent the Elvi messing with it. Unfortunately for him, once in the 1980s he discovers science is primitive and all the spouted homilies about it count for nothing. Had he but known, he could have contacted the equally eccentric scientist Magnus Pyke, better known in 1980s USA as the guy who shouted “science” all over a Thomas Dolby video.
Despite the elegance of the cartooning, that story rambles, and is much improved on in the second, where a bunch of time travellers from the 1950s arrive in Dr. Radium’s future, bringing their expectations and prejudices with them. Saavedra’s parody of the casts from 1960s SF TV shows are all optimism, patronising to women, and clenched pipes between manly teeth. Farce ensues as Saavedra channels multiple SF films from the 1950s, and the faster pace and greater gag density offer more complete strips.
Dan Vado’s credit is for a short strip in which Dr. Radium’s long suffering assistant visits a 1980s bar. Although subtitled The Complete It’s Science Collection, Saavedra subsequently released a special under the original title of It’s Science With Dr. Radium, but the gem is Dr. Radium and the Gizmos of Boola Boola. They’re obviously not included here on account of Dr. Radium never quite mastering time travel.