It’s Part Two of the Nicodemus Job! Constantinople, 1095 C.E. The gang is all together and it’s time to do some scouting and see just how impossible this job is. It looks pretty hopeless…or is it?
Writer: Brian Clevinger
Artist: Meredith McClaren
Colorist: Shan Murphy
Letterer: Tess Stone
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 22, 2018
Previously in Real Science Adventures: Nicolas Fardas, disgraced former officer of the law, is offered a job that gives him the chance to get revenge on the guy who disgraced him. He rounds up four trusted old friends and tells them about the job – liberating four rare texts from the Emperor’s library. A heist! An interesting time period! A fabulous location! Science!
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
We come into Real Science Adventures #2 where we left off – with the gang discussing the job and the many complications. The great thing is that these are new concerns, so it’s an effective way to remind us of the stakes without repeating them. They agree that the job is impossible – however, according to Nicolas, impossible doesn’t mean that they might not be able to do it anyway. He sends everyone out to gather more information directly. Immediately after this meeting, Sofana reminds Nicolas how much everyone has at stake, and she wants to know that he’s clean and not drinking. She also warns him that she’s watching him.
We finally meet Terazin Berikos, the guy with the library extortion scheme. Nicolas confronts him briefly, to tell him justice cannot be corrupted. The next day, everyone does their scouting. Things are much worse than they had anticipated, but Nicolas has them go over what they found again, and we hear it on this second telling, which is a nice storytelling touch. Emir has found that there are many Imperial guards, and their patrols are frequent. Sofana was able to see how things work with texts. Patrons request them by appointment, and the texts are brought to them in a reading room. It took her an hour to talk her way in, and there was a librarian and guard present while she read. Palatina found out the doors are guarded and locked from both sides. Nicolas managed to get plans for the building, although by this time the designs are two hundred years old.
Iskander, however, throws the biggest wrench of all. They need a cart or wheelbarrow. The texts they are trying to liberate are ancient, and there is no telling what they are made of. They could be collecting codices, scrolls or tablets. What they’re looking for includes a star chart from India, a collection of geometric formulae from Egypt, a system of hexagrams from China said to describe 12-year cycles, and ancient Grecian plans for a mathematical machine. This is an awesome touch – books as we know them today were not yet the standard.
Then they go through possible cons they could run. I love this bit. Each con has its own name, as cons do, and we get a one-panel idea of how it gets played out. Every suggestion seems to fall short, until Nicolas gets an idea. They will get the library to invite them in. They are expecting the arrival of a rare text in six days. The gang is going to run a switch.
The issue ends with a charming flashback to how Nicolas met Iskander, the scribe. Nicolas, at this time, still part of the law, shows up and asks questions. We learn a little more about the job of a scribe, but then Nicolas asks him to discuss how documents might be tampered with. He has found some forged passports and knows Iskander did them. Iskander has his reasons and stands up for them. Nicolas had figured this out, but sees the justice in what Iskander is doing. Instead of arresting him, he gives him the tip to keep his passports free of discrepancies. It made me like both characters all the more.
SIMPLE AND EXPRESSIVE
Real Science Adventures #2 has art that is breezy and minimalistic. The line is good, and you always have a clear sense of person and place. I think the trick to not having to put in all the detail is to be very careful with what details you choose to put in. The choices here are evocative of place and time. The characters’ expressions are somewhat exaggerated, but this is a larger than life story in some regards, and some of the characters (Palatina, for instance) simply have big reactions.
The coloring is beautiful. At the baseline, Constantinople in this time period has a lot of sandy tones to it. Then we get twilight with some lovely rose hues, followed by evening in rich blues and deeper colors. The flashbacks to scouting out the library are in more of a sepia tone, and the panels describing the possible cons they were considering are similar, but more golden in tone. It’s an effective use of color to help us keep track of where we are.
BOTTOM LINE: IF YOU LIKE HEISTS, YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO GET IN ON THIS ONE
We’re getting into the nitty-gritty of the tale in Real Science Adventures #2, and I like how this story is shaping up. The heist plot is advancing, as well as the plot of “what are all these texts for?” because I certainly suspect that’s going to come into play before long. This is such an interesting time and place to set a story, and it gives it a nice fresh feeling.