Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Science #1

Written by Rick Remender
Art by Matteo Scalera

I am very happy to see that Rick Remender is returning to Image Comics with new creator-owned work.  I've been enjoying his stuff at Marvel (Uncanny X-Force is a modern classic), but have missed seeing what he comes up with without any fetters or editorial hindrances.

The first issue of Black Science is an exciting study in how to launch a new series.  The issue is narrated by Grant McKay, a scientist who has led a group of people, including a financial backer and his wife and kids, on some sort of inter-dimensional journey.  The comic opens with Grant and a friend, Jen, racing through an alien landscape to return to their group before their device jumps everyone to another dimension.  Grant needs to fill the device with clean water, or everyone will be vaporized when the machine starts working (it's a MacGuffin, but an effective one).

The world they are in is definitely strange.  They are being chased by fish people outside of a temple that is on a giant turtle's back.  Grant makes his way into the temple, which is populated by frog people who can fire some sort of electric charge from their tongues.

What makes this issue so effective is Grant's narration, as he reflects on some of his life choices, such as the decision to devote his life to the study of 'black science', and the effect it has had on his family.  He is determined to save them, as the clock runs down, but he keeps running into obstacles.

Much of this book reminded me of Remender's classic Fear Agent comic.  In it, Heath Huston has been all but destroyed by the mistakes he made trying to keep his family safe in the wake of alien invasion.  In this book, Grant (which, if I'm not mistaken, was Heath's son's name) has the opportunity to proactively avoid Heath's fate, and I imagine that's what most of the drama of the series will spring from.

Matteo Scalera is an excellent collaborator for Remender on this book.  He's capable of taking the wildest ideas, and making them equally plausible and even wilder.  There is a Dan Brereton feel to some of his character designs, but the kinetic energy of each page is definitely Scalera's.  If the group keeps jumping to different dimensions every couple of issues, I imagine that we're going to see some pretty wild stuff in this book.

I like the way Remender introduces the rest of the group, immediately sowing suspicion that someone is working at cross-purposes to everyone else, and quickly outlining rivalries and jealousies.  I feel that there is going to be a lot of fertile ground to explore in this reworking of the Lost in Space concept.  I already can't wait for the next issue.

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