December 1, 2013

Image Comics Review: Black Science #1

Black Science #1
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Matteo Scalera
Publisher: Image

I’ve been waiting for Black Science for a long time. When the book was first announced a few months back, everything about it screamed of win. The team (writer extraordinaire Rick Remender, super artist Matteo Scalera, color maven Dean White), the premise (forbidden science leads to inter-dimensional shenanigans), the publisher (Image Comics, currently on an unprecedented winning streak with their recent titles); everything about Black Science appeared on the up and up. Now that I’ve finally ingested Black Science with my eye holes, is the book as good as I’d hoped? The answer is no; it’s better.

From the opening page, Black Science rips along at a breakneck pace, our hero Grant McKay dodging one cluster-eff after another. There’s no set-up, no easy peasy hand holding. Remender dumps us right into the action, McKay already in severe and immediate danger as he tries to avoid hostile natives at every turn. Outfrogged and outgunned, McKay must use every item (and head) at his disposal in order to reach his team before the whole world goes kablooey.

This chase alone is riveting enough, yet Remender manages to dot the narrative with plenty of insight, detailing McKay’s intentions and ultimately his failures. There’s a lot to process in this first issue, as Remender lays out the framework bit by bit, revealing little but implying much. He gives his readers the benefit of the doubt, leaving breadcrumbs with the unspoken promise that they’ll lead to the whole loaf. This approach works to keep the reader fully invested, as every panel contains a nugget from which you can further view his world. Don’t expect to have everything figured out by issues end, however; it’s pretty clear that we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s to come.

In terms of scripting, books don’t get much better than this. Remender writes with such conviction that you never once question where he’s going, so assured is his knowledge of the world he’s creating. The book is a glorious ode to old school sci-fi, foregoing the current clean and sterile view of our scientific future for something darker and more primitive. Simply put, there be monsters here. The book is mind-bendingly imaginative, each scene stuffed with wow moments that catch you by surprise. There’s a genuine sense of wonder here, tempered by moments of great danger, and it’s easy to see why the book received so much hype in the first place. Remender has obviously been looking for an avenue to truly cut loose, and if this first issue is any indication, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

While the writing is absolutely superb, it at times pales in comparison to the incredible visuals rendered by artist Matteo Scalera. His work in this book is a wonder, each panel and page rife with little details that further establish the mood at hand. From his lush landscapes to his terrifying creatures, Scalera nails each and every line. There’s an energy to the art that just pops, and with every page he brings you even closer to the edge of your seat. Paired with colorist Dean White (who deserves special acclaim all to himself) I’d argue that this is one of the best looking books to ever grace the shelves.

At this point I’m loathe to discuss the book any further, as my words truly don’t do it justice. This is the kind of series that you need to jump on, immediately, for fear of falling behind. Remender and Scalera seem in perfect step with one another, the result a gloriously inventive and exhilarating ride. Do I know where the series is going? Sure don’t. But I sure as hell have my money set aside for issue #2.

Jeff Lake


One Comment

  1. Didn’t expect this to be so damn good. Sure I liked the team behind it but DAMN if this didn’t blow me away. Not to mention that it took me back to those really cool sci fi short stories that I used to see as a kid in various zines. Definitely a must read/have for any fan!

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