BLACK SCIENCE #1
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Matteo Scalera and Dean White
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: November 27, 2013
The promise of a new comic title by an established writer is a rare treat. While many will anxiously await the newest release of an ongoing title, something about the thrill of opening a new, unknown title is exhilarating. Rick Remember takes this premise, the search for the new and the exciting, but twists it on its axis and transforms this quest into one of survival, not genuinely of discovery.
Black Science is a horrifying account of the exploits of The Anarchistic Order of Scientists (the coolest title for any group, ever. Period.) as they hop between different words, each more otherworldly and strange than the next. Through the art of Matteo Scalera and the colors of Dean White, Remender presents worlds of floating turtle-city ziggurats, World War I trench-warfare between aliens, and monstrous depravities being committed by hideous frog beasts. The essence of the comic pits an intrepid group of explores against the worst entities the imagination can conceive.
Remender crafts the opening concept of the journey he wishes to tell in issue #1 of Black Science. However, it is clear that this opening salvo of strangeness is only meant to whet the appetite. We meet Grant McKay, the primary hero of the first issue, as he races against time to undo the actions that has landed himself and his friends and allies … yet we don’t actually get to know much about him. Remender’s prose showcases a hero who is conflicted about past sins and errors, but we don’t get to know much beyond that. We’re introduced to McKay’s Anarchist beliefs, although the comic does not have much space to explore these ideas between panels of McKay ripping off the heads of frog-men and using their tongues as weapons (a sentence I never before thought I would ever have the honor of typing!).
Where Black Science #1 excels is Remender’s ability to tantalize an idea and to utterly commit to its presentation. The depiction of the strange alien beasts encountered by McKay and the A.O.S is Mignola-esque in its frog-laden nightmare romp. Images of bloated, cannibalistic frog-men leering at frog-women dancers that seem pulled from a Frank Frazetta painting. Even stranger still is the sense of “what on Earth(?) is going on?” – from eel-mounts to hooks hanging with skinned bodies, Remender promises a journey into the unknown and he delivers.
The flaws of the comic are few, yet they could possibly hint at hindrances to come in the physical reading of the comic. Some moments which might have played better without dialogue are overlaid by McKay’s thought boxes. The benefit to the themes of the comic parallel the works of H. P. Lovecraft in their imagination, however this knife cuts both ways. Lovecraft’s heroes were plagued by the need to constantly discuss the mind-numbingly horrifying events going on about them, even as they were going on. While the use of this narrative styling from McKay for now is a great way to present the human side of a man caught in non-human surroundings, one hopes that perhaps Remender finds prose and pictorial means of developing McKay and the A.O.S crew.
For now, Black Science #1 succeeds on all promises set forth by Remender and his gifted artistic crew. Readers should all anxiously (and fearfully!) await what new, frightening worlds lay before us as Black Science takes us on a first-hand tour of the Eververse.
The Verdict: 9.0/10