I’ve got a treat for you blerds today — a new collection of 5 comics where the hero is a female scientist who solves mysteries and thwarts crimes with her know-how and a swift kick from her rocket boots. I bring you Jill Trent: Science Sleuth!
Jill Trent is a minor 1940s comic book character, the kind that ran on the back 4 pages of another detective’s adventure. Even then, she had plenty of swagger and sometimes shared a bed with her female sidekick, Daisy Smythe, fast forward to present day, D.M. Higgins found Jill Trent in the public domain and collected 5 author/artist teams to re-imagine her for new audiences with an eye on diverse representation and inclusion. Dr. Trent’s racial appearance shifts comic to comic, as does that of her sidekick/girlfriend/wife, Daisy. Any woman can be Dr. Jill Trent.
How are the stories? Superhero science fun. They are set on scientific conventions and deserted volcanic islands. There are villains, like Dr Klepto, monstrous science fair projects, and killer robots named Jill. The art styles vary from artist to artist, bringing lots of visual interest to the book. Even if every one of them wouldn’t be up for an art award, they all support the stories well. Together, the stories and the art have the nostalgia of “Golden Age” comics about them, well mixed with 21st century problem-solving and a fair amount of social justice thinking thrown in for spice.
Jill Trent: Science Sleuth is a blast to read. It dares you to imagine a new/old world of comics where the female lead isn’t a spin-off from the “real hero” and the female sidekick is the one carrying the big guns.
I’d recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys clever redesigns and fun, light, retro comics. It is also a great fit for younger female comic book geeks with a science/technology interest — a little inspiration goes a long way. And hell, it is a comic about Black, lesbian, crime-fighting scientists. Give it to someone who thinks that’s as awesome as I do.
Where can you get it? After a successful Kickstarter, D.M. Higgins has opened the book for general purchase on her website, SuperdamesComics.com. Head on over and check it out.