Comic Review – Black Science #10

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

As I was aiming to do a quick review this week, and am struggling for cash a fair bit so opted to avoid any new titles, I’ve finally decided to review an issue of Black Science, as issue #10 just came out. I think the first issue came out before I started up these weekly single comic reviews, but like Saga before it I’ve held off on this one for a bit, going more for first issues or last issues of arcs instead. I think it’s high time to direct anyone not yet reading this title towards it now though. Black Science is a high concept sci-fi series from Image Comics, written by Rick Remender with art from Matteo Scalera, painted art by Dean White and letters by Rus Wooton.

Black Science focuses on a group of alternative scientists pushing the boundaries of conventional research, led by Grant McKay, formerly of the Anarchist Order of Scientists (new band name, I call it!). Their project, ‘The Pillar’, is intended to breach into different dimensions, in theory allowing the collection of an abundance of resources and knowledge. However, someone sabotages the machine, and it is stuck jumping across different worlds – dragging everyone that was present along with it, including the other scientists and Grant’s kids Pia and Nate. They’ve been dragged through ‘The Onion’ of all the overlapping worlds, hunted by lizards through,jungle environments, they’ve landed in the middle of a war between Nazi’s and hi-tech Native Americans, and now they find themselves on a distinctly more barren world with pillar worshipping insects, and all along the way people have died.

This issue largely focuses on Pia and Nate, escaping their previous capture by these insects, who are trying to psychically probe them to find out the location of the pillar. During their flight, Pia lets out all of her rage at her father (through both inner monologue and talking to her brother) for putting them in this situation, for never being around during their childhood and for breaking their mother not just through infidelity but by loving his work more than her. Alongside this, there is some forward momentum on another world involving the Grant McKays from multiple worlds, all of whom are very different. It seems more than one person in this story wants to use the Pillar to get back someone they lost, but is that in any way a good idea?

Remender’s story is as layered as ‘The Onion’ it takes place in, and is expertly crafted and complicated sci-fi. The concept of a multiverse isn’t a new one, but it is utilised well in Black Science by positing the potential of the ability to traverse dimensions, while highlighting what a horrible idea it turns out to be. In this issue, I loved the dialogue from the insect priest figure, essentially saying that if the only difference between him living under hardship and an alternate version of him living in opulence is a simple misstep of his behalf, and if across all the realities everything is happening, what meaning does any action or decision have? Coupled with the well fleshed out characters, almost all of whom are incredibly flawed (some across multiple incarnations), this makes for a great read. The art is stunning, with Scalera’s work being consistently one of my favourites in the business. From claustrophobic and crowded scenes full of millipede creatures, to the gorgeous sprawling mountainous area in the background of Pia and Nate’s escape on a weird flying hippo creature, the art really works for the story, all brought to vivid life by White’s painted colours.

Black Science is one of the titles I look forward to the most every month, and this issue did not disappoint. The multi-layered story is fascinating and bleak, and I can’t wait to see where it all ends up. Issue #10 may not be the best jumping on point, but the writing is strong enough that you can still pick it up and enjoy it, or track down the first 9 issues physically (many of which have had multiple reprints due to demand) or digitally to get caught up. Alternatively, the first trade ‘How To Fall Forever’ is already out, collecting issues 1-6, and the second ‘Welcome, Nowhere’  is coming out soon that will go right up to next month’s issue #11. However you do it, Black Science is definitely worth your time.

9 Pillars out of 10

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