The SyFy Network has had some great shows over the years, and although many did not survive long on the air, their re-watchability only increases over time. One such show is Warehouse 13 which had two government agents who worked for an agency which house powerful artifacts that had magical/supernatural elements. One of the story arcs throughout the series that stayed with me was the appearance of HG Wells. In this storyline, HG Wells was two people. One is the writer and the other is the actual adventurer, his sister. The show touched upon the idea that a woman would not be taken seriously an antiquated concept persists today.
Another similar topic, which was covered in the recent documentary Vintage Tomorrows, is the lack of persons of color in steampunk fiction. The movie highlights the major issue which extends into the world of steampunk cosplay.
Reality is that women and persons of color are both heroic and smart. Though this exists in the real world, it’s rarely reflected in fiction or even comics. In Shawnee and Shawnelle Gibbs and Mark Hernandez’s The Invention of EJ Whitaker, we meet one such heroine whose bravado and intelligence makes her a force to be reckoned with in 18th century America.
We are taken to Texas at the turn of the 20th century, as two men are being chased by the local gang for what they consider “snake oil”. We are also taken to Tuskegee, Alabama, where a young lady, Ada Turner, is testing out her flying machine, the first of its kind, with her robot, Jesse, and has failed miserably for the third time. Then one day, a man from the corporation building a railroad comes looking for EJ Whitaker, expecting to find a man, but secretly it is Ada’s only way to patent her devices, as women could not at the time. As Ada goes about her day as a student at Tuskegee University, as she the only woman in a completely male class minus her, where they learned physics. Eventually the two men come looking for Ada’s alter ego, as they follow her and Jessie, to where the flying machine is located. By Book’s end, Ada knew that the men would follow her, and for this she destroyed the one thing whose attention could bring more unwanted company into hers and her family’s lives.
Overall, a whimsical story which challenges gender norms and the unfair expectations society puts on women. The story by the Gibbs Sisters is fresh, exciting, and smart. The art by Hernandez is breathtaking and awe inspiring. Altogether, a hell of a ride with lots of action and intrigue that’ll excite readers.
Story: Shawnee Gibbs and Shawnelle Gibbs Art: Mark Hernandez
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy