In Boston Metaphysical Society, a vengeful Pinkerton detective, a gifted nerdy scientist and a young spirit photographer battle supernatural forces in late 1800’s Boston.
Published Synopsis: “The year is 1895…An evil from a parallel dimension escaped and now roams the city of Boston. Faced with a new century and new steam technology, the social and political status quo is turned on its head. People are uncomfortable with change and, in fact, many people fear it. That fear and the violence which follows causes a psychic rift to puncture the veil of space and time allowing the entity known as “The Shifter” to escape. Feeding on the resentment and fear between the rich and poor, “The Shifter” triggers a rash of murders. Four of the greatest minds of the time have banded together to try and stop this malevolent entity. Known only as B.E.T.H., they are: Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Harry Houdini. They fail.
Against their better judgment, they look to a man driven by revenge – SAMUEL HUNTER.”
What if some the greatest minds of their age, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla & Harry Houdini were part of a secret society and joined forces to stop a powerful, malevolent entity from another dimension that prowled the mean streets of turn of the century Boston feeding on the fear and suffering of others? What if they failed to stop it? Who could they call? This is the premise of the extraordinary web comic Boston Metaphysical Society.
Boston Metaphysical Society, brain child of creator and writer Madeleine Holly-Rosing (originally conceived as a TV Pilot) and drawn by talented artist Emily Hu, deftly create an intriguing steampunk version of 1860’s Boston and populate it with an eclectic and substantial cast of characters, cental of which are our main protagonist, the aptly named Samuel Hunter, an ex Pinkerton Detective; young Caitlin O’Sullivan, a gifted Medium and Sprit Photographer; and Granville Woods, brilliant scientist and weapon maker of the team. The mission tasked to this “Mod Squad” by the aforementioned Genius Cabal B.E.T.H.? Stop the paranormal entity known as “The Shifter” at all costs before his dark influence tears Boston apart. Boston Metaphysical Society garnered Honorable Mention at the Geekie Awards (2013) and was Nominated for a Steampunk Chronicle’s Reader’s Choice Award (2013) & Nominated for an Airship Award (SteamCon 2012). It would be easy to call Boston Metaphysical Society “steampunk x-files”, and while truth is that isn’t a bad starting off point, that would be overly simplistic. The talented creative team of Boston Metaphysical Society doesn’t stop there. In X-Files Mulder was a driven, off-balance first hand witness and believer of the paranormal and Scully was a cool, rational champion of science and skeptic. The team of Hunter and O’Sullivan have both born witness to supernatural forces and lost loved ones to them. Revenge driven Hunter lost his wife and O’Sullivan her father whom she inherits both his talents as a medium and his Spirit Photography equipment. Boston Metaphysical Society beyond the occult and gothic horror elements contains solid political and social commentary. Here the non-fictional scientific and engineering greats of the Victorian era are threads of a wonderfully crafted tapestry weaving alternative historical crib notes on feminism, class, race & politics. Its social morays are never ham-fisted nor preachy and this is no easy feat to accomplish with such politically loaded subject matter. The result is this talented team both educates and entertains and does both so effortlessly my hope is they take a second bite at the apple for a TV pilot and Boston Metaphysical Society is developed for television!
The closest comparison I can come to describing the geeky pleasure I felt devouring Boston Metaphysical Society is when in 1999 when I first read Alan Moore’s graphic novel League of Extraordinary Gentlemen published by Wildstorm/DC (forget the godawful film). It was a “victorian era Justice League” where some of my favorite fictional heroes and foes plotted, schemed fought and loved in a fictional Steampunk universe. The caustic banter between an aloof and arrogant Nickola Tesla and the curmudgeon industrialist inventor Edison especially will delight history buffs who know of the real life animosity that existed between these two geniuses. Steampunk Victorian Boston where Boston Metaphysical Society takes place has real substance thanks to the obvious research of historical events that lend its proceedings depth along with Ms. Hu’s adept illustrations, the rich pleasing auburn and brassy hues and mad near-realistic mechanical designs of inventions that are captured in the best steampunk narratives. Writer Madeleine Holly-Rosing knack for wit and era specific dialogue shines with banter illustrating the tension between O’Sullivan’s empathetic approach believing specters are souls in torment and her elder partner Hunter consumed with vengeance who only sees them as threats to be eliminated. As its intricate story unfolds Hunter and Woods grow to see O’Sullivan less as a naive trainee and more as a full partner. The bodies mount and stakes get higher; each view gains relevance to the other and their initial hard positions soften as the relationships between the leads develops. The daughter of slain sprit photographer O’Sullivan is a heroine you’ll find it hard not to root for. Her naïve Irish immigrant lass veneer masks a tough, focused and feminist spine of steel. The jaded Hunter desperately ghost hunting to avenge his dead wife feels protective of his ex-partner’s daughter but grows to admire what she brings to the ghostbusting trio. Grantville Woods, the R&D quartermaster and scientist is witty and often the smartest person in the room which can be tricky for an African American man of his day, is a good balance (and when things heat up a good buffer) between both extreme views of his colleagues and has other motivations that I won’t spoil for you here. My only complaint with this refreshing take on alternative history and steampunk supernatural is the six-issue mini-series will end this year! If you have a taste for an intelligent, well written, elegantly illustrated Award winning Independent book, you can’t go wrong with Boston Metaphysical Society!
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All art – Emily Hu / Boston Metaphysical Society