Science Comics: Volcanoes: Fire and Life
First Second launched its Science Comics line this past spring with Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers and the excellent Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean. Now comes a new installment, Jon Chad’s Volcanoes: Fire and Life, and it’s fun and exciting, using a science fiction story to convey its lessons.
Aurora lives in the future, on an Earth where the surface has completely frozen. She’s part of a learning group trying to find sources of fuel among the abandoned houses and cities, but she’s concerned that their community needs a more dependable heat source.
Chad’s vision is disturbing and strongly, starkly visualized. I was instantly submerged in this frozen world, sharing Aurora’s concerns and worrying for her and her tribe. That made the information imparted even more potent and poignant. For me, it’s interesting to learn about geology and volcanic activity, but for her, it could be a matter of life and death. Chad does a great job keeping both the story and the education moving along.
As Aurora looks for a way to warm her planet, she discovers volcanoes and the corresponding nature of the earth, including its crust, magma, and plate movement. She tries to educate others, telling them (and the reader) about types of volcanoes and how they form, with plenty of diagrams and comparisons to things we’re already familiar with. Everyone can understand the emotional metaphors used, when people getting mad at each other and blowing up are compared to different types of volcanic eruptions.
Aurora is convinced she’s found a new way to do things, but one of the obstacles she has to overcome is the resignation and anger of her older teacher, who’s given up on a sense of discovery and is coping with the world as it is. That’s a very empathic situation, particularly for older readers. A vocabulary section at the end reinforces the language used throughout the story.
Science Comics: Volcanoes: Fire and Life is due out October 18 as a paperback ($12.99) or hardcover ($19.99). It can be preordered from your local comic store with Diamond code AUG16 1646 or AUG16 1647, respectively. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)