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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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02/27/2005 Archived Entry: "Graphic novel review: Creature Tech"

Creature Tech
by Doug TenNapel
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

Review by Tom Good

Creature Tech begins with a mad scientist trying to lure giant space eels to Earth, and it only gets stranger from there. The hero, Dr. Michael Ong, researches alien activity at a facility nicknamed "Creature Tech." While opening crates from an excavation site, he finds a monster, the ghost of the space-eel scientist, an alien, and the Shroud of Turin, which has the power to raise the dead. The symbiotic alien attaches itself to his body, the ghost is resurrected by the shroud, and Ong embarks upon a series of battles to thwart the evil scientist.

This is Doug TenNapel's first graphic novel, but he has worked on video games such as Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood,. The character designs in Creature Tech, especially that of Dr. Ong, remind me of a 1995 computer game called Full Throttle. Dr. Ong looks a bit like a thinner version of Full Throttle's main character Max, and both heroes ride motorcycles. Of course, the similarities end once Ong gains a few extra limbs from the symbiotic alien and then starts fighting against demon cats. In general, the art looks loose and spontaneous without seeming unfinished.

Ong has a complicated relationship with his father, who was once a great scientist but is now the town pastor. Ong took the opposite path in life, leaving seminary school to take up a career in science. The two men discuss science and faith, and evolution vs. intelligent design. But the story is full of overlaps between the two realms. Ong scoffs when a local claims to see the face of Jesus on a cinnamon bun, yet his scientific view is unshaken by the existence of ghosts and demons. On the other hand, Ong's father and other churchgoers seem relatively untroubled by the idea of insect-like aliens and giant space eels. In Creature Tech, the world contains more than anyone expects, but the characters adapt, learn, and remain receptive to the unknown. That may be what makes the story so much fun.

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