“BLACK SCIENCE” #1 (Comic Review)
If horror has taught us anything, it’s that playing with science is a good way to ruin your day. Unchecked experiments can lead to creatures, zombies, killer plants and human/fly cross-breeds of insane proportions. Unless you’re Velma, it is generally regarded that if you spend a disproportionate amount of your time messing with the fabric of the universe, you will be killed, or at least, very miserable. With BLACK SCIENCE, this is exactly what happens to a poor group of stranded dimension travelers as they desperately search for a way home. Facing alien monsters in an unknown landscape, this new title from Image Comics mixes sci-fi nostalgia with the uncertainty of “what lies beyond,” creating the perfect storm of 70s throwback and modern horror aesthetics.
BLACK SCIENCE descends quickly into madness as it opens with our protagonist, Dr. Grant McKay, a member of the Anarchist League of Science, and his wife running through the jungles of an alien world. Hot on their heels is a pair of reptilian humanoids riding large, snake-like creatures with blood-lust in their eyes and weapons in their hands. McKay narrates, focusing on how he got to this damned state of being, when one of his pursuers blows off his wife’s head. Shocked, he continues running, only to find himself thrown deeper and deeper in the new world, searching for a source of fresh water to power his traveling machine.
Immediately striking is BLACK SCIENCE’s outstanding art. Breaking away from standard flat inks, the colors are heavily layered with paint, harking back to the days of old HEAVY METAL magazines. The art, penciled by Matteo Scalera and colored by Dean White, brings back a sense of vividness to the landscape that, aside from a few attempts here and there, hasn’t been seen for over thirty years. Dark shadows and twisted creations pop out at you in a whirlwind of sharp detail, bringing in the over-the-top bizarre state of finding oneself plopped directly into a malevolent and unforgiving universe. This sort of background gives us a solid link to McKay’s helplessness as he attempts to navigate the terrain, bringing his desperation close to the reader’s heart. There is a very real sense of dread as the artwork plays with the emotional turmoil of a life spent pursuing the unknown, only to realize that some things are better left undisturbed.
The author and mastermind behind the epic is the low flying, but genre defying Rick Remender, who not only left his mark on Marvel with runs on the UNCANNY X-FORCE and CAPTAIN AMERICA, but has written or drawn at least twenty five creator owned works. This latest has him claiming that he’s back to his sci-fi roots and he’s very much accomplished that. BLACK SCIENCE’s script is smooth with easy transitions, spending equal time between McKay’s inner dialogue and the action sequences. There is a very natural flow to the whole thing, without any unnecessary breaks from the story at hand. The creatures here are beautifully designed and thought through, creating a formidable enemy for the scientist in his race against time. Remender takes us on a hell of a trip through the first issue, introducing a work with limitless possibilities for each new release, new dimension, new interaction and split-second decision. With the second issue only a week away, it’s going to be a hard one to keep on shelves.