(Image Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by Rick Remender
Artwork by Matteo Scalera
Color Artwork by Dean White
Letters by Rus Wooton
I was out of breath by the time I reached the final page of Black Science #1, exhausted and elated I had just experienced sequential storytelling perfection. Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera and Dean White have created a flawless comic book. If this sounds like high praise, it is obviously meant to but, it is not high enough. Until you read this book and gaze in awe upon the visual genius of each page you cannot know the ecstatic pleasure induced by the experience. It reads like EC Comics meets the best dime store sci-fi pulp adventure novels of the past but with a modern sensibility and relevance that gives it an edge of post-modern dystopian urgency. Remender doesn’t waste a step; this story is being told by the main character, Grant McKay while he and his wife are being chased down by a squad of amphibious “fish-men” who obviously have the most lethal intent in their hearts. We are thrust into a maelstrom of vibrant colors and chaotic hostility, safety seems unlikely at best but we dare not turn back, we are all in on this adventure and can’t wait to see where it takes us.
Rick Remender has done some amazing work over the years; from the pulpy Fear Agent, his divisive work on The Punisher that would spawn Frankencastle to his brilliant run of Uncanny X-Force right up to his innovative turn on Uncanny Avengers, Remender is a consummate storyteller. Even when working on established characters he places his indelible mark on them forever changing how these characters are perceived by future creators and fans alike. In Black Science Remender speeds us along at a jaw rattling pace while Grant Mckay gives us all the back story we need via his inner dialogue, so by the time we come up for air, we realize that we have already come to know this character and are emotionally invested in the outcome. Mckay is a man who has not only risked his safety but the well-being of his family on his desire to master his existence. He waxes metaphysical as well as philosophical along the way. In the scene where he rescues a young “fish-woman” from certain death at the hands of an enemy race of frog-like warriors who have enslaved her for their immoral intentions he places mercy and compassion ahead of self-preservation perhaps channeling a young James Tiberius Kirk as he pulls the head off one of the frog-men. The majority of the dialogue is internal which lends a deeper feeling of intimacy to the narrative as a whole thus allowing us to become completely engrossed in the story. We anguish along with McKay over his past indiscretions and mistakes that have conspired to place him and his loved ones in this current peril. Remender instantly conveys McKay’s voice to us in a genuine, realistic manner full of resolve and determination.
There is a very real element of intrigue when McKay finally meets up with his children and traveling companions from the League, a conspiratorial tone that everything is not as it should be. Remender infuses McKay with a distinct distrust of authority giving him a Fox Mulder-like persona and endowing him with that likable scoundrel aura that all the best heroes have.
Matteo Scalera and Dean White have shown us a nightmare world that is vivacious and alive with color and texture. Scalera’s creatures are repulsive and gorgeous at once; the noble and brutally violent fish-men appear regal and physically imposing in contrast to the bloated and repugnant frog-warriors who have distended bellies and gaping mouths. The Anarchist League of Scientists wear the bubble helmets that were standard issue for almost every space traveler of the pulp era along with massive boots and various apparatus attached to the outer layer of their uniforms. Scalera gives Grant Mckay a long lean appearance with expressive eyes and wiry appendages, his slightly exaggerated anatomy works perfectly here. Dean White adds a dimension of vibrancy with his extensive color palette. His rich hues and bristling bright highlights bring the worlds of the Eververse to life. White illustrates the difference between realms through the use of contrasting color choices; the muted tones of the murky amphibious races appear much darker compared to the brightly illuminated war torn world we catch a glimpse of on the final page. He and Scalera seem to have a remarkable chemistry that yields stunning results. The panels flow into one another giving an organic feel to Scalera’s visual storytelling approach, filling page after page to overflowing with lush, complex imagery which works extremely well with Remender’s rapid fire pacing. The combination of vintage science fiction tropes with the metaphysical and theoretical sciences is a stroke of genius allowing Remender to delve into limitless potentialities as Grant McKay and company explore and face the perilous dangers of Black Science.
Black Science succeeds on every level; it is visually spectacular with dazzling color and magnificent design and page composition. The story is engrossing, the dialogue rings authentic and true and the pace is fast making the exciting narrative that much more thrilling. This is flawlessly created from inception to execution; I loved everything about this book. If you didn’t pick this up yet, put down that left over piece of pumpkin pie, go back to your local comic book store and get what could be the best comic book you will read this year. Now you have something to be truly thankful for, so until next time, see you at the comic book store. (5/5 perfect)
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629