Black Science is What Sliders Should Have Been
Rick Remender is a heavy hitter in all genres of the comic book realm. Many of you Marvel fans out there may know him from numerous books, including recent hits like Uncanny Avengers, Captain America, and Winter Soldier (with the last two being especially note-worthy with the recent cinematic blockbuster) and previous runs on Venom and Uncanny X-Force plus many, many more. While Remender excels in the larger arena, he also has a passion and great success in the smaller, creator-owned realm with fan favorites such as Fear Agent and now Black Science.
It took me a while to get around to this book. I will admit, I am a fanboy for the bigger studios, namely Marvel. I dabble in DC, but I am often turned off by many different aspects of their books. When it comes to the smaller labels, Image, Dark Horse, etc. I pick up their books when someone tells me, "This is not to be missed." Well, Black Science is not to be missed! I had been alerted to this fact numerous times by my comic-book-aficionado friend Nick, but it literally took me weeks to peel back the cover of Black Science #1. In some regards, I am glad that I waited so long, because this allowed me to absorb the first arc of Black Science quite similarly to the same way I've absorbed so many popular TV shows of late. Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, and so many more have come to me after the initial premieres. And this lack of knowledge has afforded me the chance to binge watch these shows up until the point where I'm caught up. And then the inevitable waiting begins. The rest of you hardcore fans are probably scoffing at me now, but I feel your pain nonetheless! Black Science has recently rapped its first major story arc with a hell of a cliff-hanger, and now the next issue (#7) is not due out until July. Wow. Ouch. Sheesh. Please, no! ... Anyway, on to the review.
Spoilers ahead for sure. Please, if you haven't read at least the first couple of issues, just take this glowing opening paragraph as a sign from above, stop reading, and go out to you local comic book shop NOW.
Black Science is wholly a sci-fi comic book in the best possible way. There are no super-heroes here, no super powers, just science... cold, hard, Black science. The title is an excellent double entendre in that it leads you to think of "black magic," but this is far worse...its Black Science. No mysteries or unexplained reactions, this is all science and the worst possible kind.
The premise of this book is, unfortunately, not wholly original. Any Jerry O'Connell fans out there? Well, if so, good for you, because the most basic comparison to any existing pop culture reference here is easily the mid-90's sci-fi TV show, Sliders. This crew of "anarchist scientists," as our lead character Grant McKay refers to this rabble, is currently bouncing through an infinite number of alternate universes (or rather, the "Eververse" in keeping with the book's nomenclature). Why you may ask? Well, Grant and his crew surmised that in a universe with infinite quantum possibilities, there must be worlds in which every possible outcome had in fact already occurred. To this end, they believed that if they could travel to these other timelines, they would have access to every solution to any problem they would ever have. As it turns out, they were right. And, for as much scientific success that this crew had, unfortunately, their problems are rooted heavily in the interpersonal realm. And who knows what science could ever do there.
As this books starts out, you get none of this backstory I so eloquently detailed for you. Issue #1 starts out fast and violent. This is why I should apologize for my earlier Sliders reference. For every bit that the basic premise may compare to that hokey 90's show, every single other aspect of this book is completely different. It is dark, visceral, and violent. This crew does not share the light-hearted camaraderie that Wade Welles, Rembrandt Brown, Professor Arturo and Quinn Mallory so readily exchanged. This crew, while at its emotional core consists of Grant McKay and his teen-aged children, otherwise is a group stricken by deep-seated personal, professional, and romantic conflicts. Kamir, the financial backer and his lackey Chandra do not share the same goals as McKay. Grant accompanied by his children Nathan and Pia also have a loyal crew of fellow researchers/security of Shawn, Rebecca, and Ward. These relationships are all twisted and convoluted in different ways, but the lynch pin in the whole ensemble nightmare is that the world-jumping technology known as the Pillar has been damaged since the first jump, stranding this contentious crew in the numerous alternate dimensions that await them until they can travel home.
Once again, I can't help but make the Sliders comparison for numerous reasons: the crew is required to "jump" on a predetermined timeline, their mechanism for jumping is broken, thus resulting in them moving randomly from dimension to dimension without any idea where they will end up. While its fair to make this comparison, Black Science would have made a helluva better show. The worlds of Black Science are stranger, more in-depth, and mystifying than anything else I've read in comic books. And that's saying something from a Marvel fan (those fools love to fuck with the timeline and create alternate dimensions). Often times, the population of these alternate dimensions are human like, but only if amphibians, reptiles, or primates had evolved to the level of our current civilizations. Alternately, the book doesn't always play with evolution, but instead world history, as we see the Native American tribes at one point as the dominant civilization on the planet, running the European civilizations into the ground with superior technology.
While the world building is infinitely interesting (as the potential is still very much untapped) the characters and their relationships are really the meat and potatoes of this story. I've read every column at the back of each comic in its entirety and it's impossible to ignore Remender's focus on an ensemble cast for this book. It's very clear he wanted to focus on a group of characters and explore what comes from their relationships and honestly, he's really killing it here. Without dropping any major spoilers here (go read issue #6), things between these characters are getting really sticky. Let me go ahead and give you the same warning I wish someone had given me before I started watching Game of Thrones: No characters are off limits. Yep, I'm just going to leave that there and move on.
While I could indulge my self ad infinitum, I think its time to rap this up and push you all to go read this book. Its truly fantastic. The art of Matteo Scalera and Dean White set a perfect tone for this edgy, dark, and often mesmerizing sci-fi story while Rick Remender is really holding nothing back on this one. Many an online forum or letters column I have read, wax on end that this book is worthy of the title of "masterpiece" in the annals of Remender's work and I am akin to agree. While it took me a while to get around to this series, I'm sure to feel the burn of the next couple of months waiting for issue #7...
Check Image Comics page for more info on Black Science: http://imagecomics.com/content/view/see-forever-in-black-science-by-remender-and-scalera