A comic book about teenage scientists joining a secret society with the goal of boosting women in science, and occasionally saving the world, The Curie Society sounds in equal measure brilliant and twee. Thankfully, its large creative team and roster of science advisers mean it’s both highly entertaining and packed with interesting science.
Co-creators Heather Einhorn and Adam Staffaroni, along with writer Janet Harvey and artist Sonia Liao, have come up with a world that could easily be our own, albeit in brighter colours. We meet our lead characters on their first day at Edmonds University. The three young women share a dorm room and initially do not get on with each other at all. Though each brilliant in her own way, they do not seem destined to become fast friends.
Maya is a mathematics major, Simone is a biology specialist and Taj is a computer scientist. Via a series of puzzles and tasks resembling an extra hard escape room, they are introduced to the Curie Society, which hopes to recruit them. The scientific explanations behind their problem-solving are accurate and clear (there’s even a free accompanying educators’ guide), though they do occasionally feel more “info dump” than seamless storytelling.
The second half of the comic deals with a specific mission, centred around biotechnology that could be of great benefit to humanity, but in the wrong hands could be dangerous. There is some hubris to the Curie Society deciding that its hands are the “right” ones and this is touched on but dismissed. What we get instead is an action-packed spy-thriller at a tech conference. Which is a lot of fun and gives all the characters their moment to shine.
Not all of the plot threads are tied up, and it’s clear there are plans for sequels. Hopefully that will give the lead characters a chance to develop beyond their initially sketched characteristics.
- 2021 MIT Press 168pp $18.95pb
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