Jill Trent, Science Sleuth #1
What a neat idea! Take an intriguing character first published in 1943 (and now public domain) and make new stories about her. Jill Trent, Science Sleuth was a backup feature in Wonder Comics #8-20. (You can read them here.) Accompanied by her best friend Daisy Smythe, Jill used science to detect crimes, invent new technology, and stop bad guys. Typical of the era, the stories are action-packed, and it’s refreshing to see women fighting crime in regular clothes, winning out through brain power but not afraid to throw a few punches.
Superdames Comics brought back Jill in an anthology. Jill Trent, Science Sleuth #1 has five stories:
- “Science, Like Love…”, written by D.M. Higgins, art by Rafael Romeo Magat
- “The Horror of the Huge Hamsters!”, written by Charley Macorn, art by Matthew R. McDaniel
- “The Mystery of the Manifest Volcano”, written by Adam Rowe, art by Kyle Roberts
- “Hearts of Steel”, written by N.J. Coyle, art by Ryan Incandenza
- “The Sinister Smokescreen”, written by Jacqueline Ching, art by Michael R. Hall
Because Jill and Daisy were, back then, seen sleeping in the same bed, today’s Jill and Daisy are married. And because there are more types of people in the world than blondes, Jill and Daisy’s appearance and ethnicities vary among the stories. Kinda weird for people used to an emphasis on brand consistency and continuity in their adventure comics, but why not? You can see the different takes on the characters on the print cover, shown left.
In these stories, Jill and Daisy fight a credit-stealing mad scientist and his sushi-serving cyborg waiters; wrangle a herd of giant hamsters; investigate an unexpected volcano; creates a robot duplicate; and stop an arsonist. Each is five pages, so they move quickly.
My favorite was the last, partly due to the old-school art style used, and partly because Jill gets to tell off a sexist idiot who thinks “ladies like you do a lot of cooking and cleaning.” This comic is a lot of fun, full of exciting, crazy ideas. My main quibble is that I’d like to see more women contributing to the comic, given its message of female achievement.
You can get issue #1 digitally or in print (currently half-price through tomorrow). Issue #2 is currently being Kickstarted; it will have three eight-page stories. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)