Review by Ian Keogh
Think Tank volume four ended with David Loren attempting to commit suicide. Because it’s so quickly glossed over in the opening chapter it seems at first as if Matt Hawkins is trivialising this and the depression millions in the real world suffer, but it’s actually just clumsy storytelling, as he’s prioritising the plot over the characterisation. Animals with control collars are being used to assassinate important people in Europe, and they seem to be doing this via technology reverse-engineered from Loren’s inventions. Who’s going to be the best person to fix that?
It’s not until the second chapter that Hawkins returns properly to Loren and his feelings via an extended session with his psychiatrist. It’s a more honest use of the page space if the subject of depression is to be introduced in the first place, and at least establishes it’s not a condition dealt with over couple of weeks by supervision and a few pills.
Need to show the Russians mobilising an invasion force? Rahsan Ekedal’s version is phenomenal, just like his Berlin locations and his Bolshoi ballet sequence. However, more so than any previous arc, this is a war story, and it’s with the boys’ war toys that Ekedal really excels. His scenes of Mirra on a sports bike are amazing, and there’s no-one here who doesn’t have a full visual personality. Ekedal’s come a long way as an artist since volume one, and he’s going to be worth watching in the future.
As far as the main plot goes, the animals are just a way in. As he did in volume four, Hawkins escalates the global political tensions at the time he was writing, this time casting the Russians as the bear prodded too many times with a stick. It means the focus is as much on Mirra Sway and her CIA activities as it is on Loren, but with him back in the USA manipulating technology the balance is far better than it was for volume three. It enables Hawkins to shift far more toward action thriller territory with a cracking, swerving plot, and still have Loren as the wisecracking wild card.
This would appear to be the final Think Tank graphic novel, and if so, the saccharine ending may well be over the top, but it’s playing to the crowd, and at least it’s preceded by a small moment of ambiguity, which is nice. If it’s the end, that’s a shame, but there have been five graphic novels about David Loren, each of them well written and well drawn, and that’s four more than a lot of worthy subjects managed.