There is a captivating aesthetic at play within the pages of Black Science. At once, it reminds me of the square-jawed, romantic, high science-fiction so skillfully crafted by creators such as Al Williamson (Weird Science) or Alex Raymond (Buck Rogers). The exotic locales, the dome-topped, skin-hugging environment suits, and the alien antagonists all harken back to an era when brave men and women encountered planets and creatures far removed from the comprehension of the mundane.
Gradually though, as tastes evolved over time, the Weird has faded to Black. Characterizations have become more complex and gray. The action has grown considerably more intense. The personal stakes have been raised—whereas in the past, the heroes might struggle to save a society on the brink of disaster, today, the heroes are struggling for their very lives.
Black Science, written by Rick Remender with art by Matteo Scalera, is a stunning, breakneck sci-fi thriller that simply begs for multiple readings. The action focuses on Grant McKay, the leader of the Anarchistic League of Scientists, and his reality-shattering discovery of a method for crossing the barriers between dimensions—his invention is called The Pillar. McKay has assembled a team of “Dimensionauts” to explore the onion-like layers of the Eververse, but the Pillar malfunctions, sweeping McKay, his team, and his bankroll, a corporatist named Kadir, along for a perilous journey. Stranded in alternate dimensions for random lengths of time while beset by bizarre lifeforms, McKay must keep this team together while figuring out a way to repair the Pillar.
While the grounded, believable characters and the exhilarating plot are particularly satisfying, it’s the art that will keep me coming back to this on-going series. Between the intense, angular, and lavish pencils by Matteo Scalera and the vibrant, pulsating colors employed by Dean White, the art in this series is a heart-stopping masterwork of sheer brilliance. The panels are marked by Pollock-esque splotches of dripping paint, adding texture that in various contexts could be motes of energy, dust, flop-sweat, or spattered blood. Shadows loom and halt as they are met by distinct lines of faces and the crisp contours of metal or plastic. Everything is an electric wash of saturated shade and hard-edged grit.
Black Science evokes the grand adventure of the science-fiction of our forefathers. While the past informs this riveting title, the themes and structures of this inter-dimensional Swiss Family Robinson are thoroughly postmodern in style and execution. Black Science, vol. 1: How to Fall Forever collects the first six issues of the on-going series.
Black Science, vol. 1: How to Fall Forever
by Rick Remender
Art by Matteo Scalera, Dean White
Image Comics, 2014