Take television’s Lost in Space (not the 1998 movie) and throw in some 1940s sci-fi pulp, a little Quantum Leap and Terminator time travel and you have a quick description of Black Science. Writer Rick Remender has invited us on a pilotless trip through parallel realities and time with scientist Grant Mackay, his children, his assistants and his project’s financial investor.
If you tend to flip through the book first before buying it, the first thing to grab you is the artwork. Matteo Scalera creates environments and a frantic look and that comes from transporting through different realities. Colorist Dean White’s painting makes those realities bigger and beautiful than any life we know. The first several pages can give your eyeballs whiplash as you follow the breakneck story but stop to take in the amazing world you’re running through. How do Lightning vomiting frogs and a Cowboy vs Indian world fought between WWII-esque soldiers and high-tech natives grab you?
As much as the art is fun and beautiful, Rick Remender is crafting a story of family and character as well as an explanation of why — no matter how much it could benefit mankind — we should never mess with time and reality.
There is nothing to like about the lead character Grant Mackay. He is a self-absorbed, punk rocker anarchist turned physicist who has created “the Pillar”, a device that slips through the barriers of dimensions. Except the Pillar has been sabotaged and they no longer slip as much as punch haphazardly through realities. Now instead of cocky, Mackay is lost and helpless as he faces the chaos that his own hubris has created; he finds himself endangering his children and peers, cheating on his wife and the real possibility they might get stranded in one of these realities. Remender does a good job of peeling Mackay’s layers through flashbacks, internal thoughts and his actions.
The beauty of collections is we don’t get time to forget the characters while waiting for the next issue. The others along for the ride have lives as well and they react to their new conditions in expected and unexpected ways: they scheme, they fight, they breakdown or they rise up. The money behind the project, Kadir, is just as bad and selfish as Mackay and elevates their dynamic when their views collide on a monkey-spirit world leading to the climactic confrontation. Remender has given us a cast for which we never know what will happen next, and that surprise is part of the page turning addiction.
This collection is heavy on action, but knows its storytelling is what will keep you reading. Black Science Volume One leaves us with an exciting launch point for the next story arc. Which direction that arc goes will be anyone’s guess, but Remender has left some bread crumbs of possible “realities” that can be explored. If you’re like me and can’t invest time into the monthly publications of Black Science (if you can do it monthly, do so! the pulp/serial cliff-hanger endings are part of the experience) then for $9.99 for 152 pages of fun is a good deal.