Secreted beneath MIT’s Killian Court and accessible only through a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels, a clandestine lab conducts boundary-pushing research, fed by money siphoned from a Department of Defense grant. In these shadowed, high-tech halls, astrophysicist and astronaut Valentina Resnick-Baker, who is experiencing strange phenomena after an encounter with a planet-threatening asteroid, discovers she has the power of plasma fusion. 

Resnick-Baker is the buff and brainy heroine of Summit, a 15-issue comic series created and written by Amy Chu ’91. The situations may be fictional, but the science is—broadly—real. (Chu did background research on plasma physics for the series, and when writing about the Batman villain Poison Ivy, she learned the basics of CRISPR so Ivy could deploy it to develop her own plant “kids.”) “The thing that has bothered me for a long time is that a lot of superhero stories are based on complete nonsense,” says Chu, 54. “Every story I do I try to ground in science.” 

That a graduate of MIT prefers scientific plausibility to Kryptonite and radioactive spider bites may be the least surprising thing about Chu. At age 42, after a successful career spent largely in conference rooms, this erstwhile management consultant entered her own alternate universe as a comic book writer. First through her publishing startup, Alpha Girl Comics, and now through work for heavyweights like Marvel and DC, Chu is reimagining a traditionally white male medium for girls, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, and others who rarely see themselves in its color-saturated panels.

“A lot of superhero stories are based on complete nonsense. Every story I do I try to ground in science.”

Amy Chu

With comics, Chu is pursuing both a market opportunity and a social agenda, the latter familiar to the battle-scarred women of gaming. “All these people are screaming and hollering about comics: that they are dying because girls and women are killing them,” says Chu, referring to well-publicized misogyny directed at female creators and fans. “The future of comics hinges on the ability to get girls as readers.” 

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By: Leigh Buchanan
Title: Kapow!
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/06/29/1053298/kapow/
Published Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2022 11:00:00 +0000

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