In “Genius” author Steven T. Seagle and artist Teddy Kristiansen have crafted a stark look at the nature of brilliance, disappointment, discontent and the weight of expectation, pretty lofty subjects for a graphic novel that tops out at 126 pages. The novel follows Ted, a theoretical physicist and genius, but working alongside his intellectual equals in what amounts to a factory farm of perspective-altering theories, papers and discoveries has him feeling insignificant, lost and desperate. His boss minced no words in telling him that no breakthrough in the very near future will mean no job.
Things at home aren’t doing anything to alleviate Ted’s stress. He has two teenaged kids, a grumpy, withering father-in-law and a wife getting tested for terminal illness (not the best moment to be looking at losing medical insurance). One day, groping for inspiration, for some idea, Ted’s father-in-law mentions once working for Albert Einstein, the man Ted admires above all others. Ted initially dismisses the claim as hokum, but soon comes to believe the old man’s tale that Einstein burdened him with a great truth, a truth the world wasn’t yet ready for. Unfortunately for Ted, that’s a secret he will never be voluntarily told, so he sets his considerable intellectual talents to plotting a way to extract the information.
“Genius” is not a tale filled with action, nor brave heroes battling super villains, in short, it’s not an escapist read, it’s a searing reminder of the fact that even the brilliant are all too human, just as unfulfilled and restless, always aspiring to the feats of those men that came before them. “Genius” also speaks to the cyclical nature of being, the happiness that can come from making the best of what you are given and the vast reserves of untapped experiences in each of us, those moments not even known to those who know us best.
For all of its introspection and at times bleak presentation of the average life of an above average mind, “Genius” is a breezy read, albeit one that will resurface in the readers’ thoughts for weeks after that final page is turned.