Unlike a group review, in a “Dual Review” two writers (in this case Steve and James) will take a look at the issue and give a numeric score for the issue. Let’s jump into it! Steve:
Black Science #1’s harried dash had just my kinda panache; an intoxicating concoction of weird-yet-wieldy happenstance totally befitting its sexy title and look. However, Black Science #2, while starting off promisingly, very quickly dips into a catch-your-breath prosaicness I was hoping the title would avoid.
Now, I know it might sound weird to call a story involving both early-20th century German soldiers and space-capable Native American tribes “prosaic,” but bear with me. Doesn't this feel like a modern-day redux of Challengers of the Unknown, or a skewed retelling of that series’ copy, an early Fantastic Four adventure? I mean, it even comes replete with a super genius leader, a rock-hard protector, a fiery wise-cracker and a power-hungry dickbag with a snarl on his face and doom in his heart.
Even in the similarities to its clear inspirations, though, Black Science #2 is fine. It’s pretty chatty in places and strangely suffers childish, sometimes off-putting humor, heavy exposition and an uneasy chorus of extreme voices without much nuance, but it’s still a cool concept that I think has legs long enough to let it stand on its own.
The problem, I think, is that Remender wants his audience to catch their collective breath after the frantic pace of issue one, but by doing so, he’s slowed down the fun jostle of the story. With respect to the in-book wisecrack against it, I want Black Science to continue with the introspective feel it established in its first three pages - the kind of stuff that gives Remender his reputation for being an occasional “esoteric cleric,” the side to his writing I enjoy most, and I think is his greatest strength.
The art from Matteo Scalera continues to be pretty goddamn great, with a style that I’d place somewhere between John Romita Jr. and Nick Dragotta (with maybe a bit of Sean Murphy in there). His and Remender’s concepts here look great, and while the advanced natives are well done, I can’t help but see Stargate via Last of the Mohicans. And while much of that stylized painted feel, which looked so gorgeous in issue one, is gone here (echoed still on its front cover), the art as a whole remains a strong suit for the story.
I enjoyed the first issue of Black Science because it was so bonkers, paced in the breathless voice of a man on the run, but in both the art and writing, this second issue seems to have run out of breath. It’s not bad, but it does feel too formulaic or “inspired-by.” Hopefully this is just a temporary tangent to get everyone caught up so we can all rush headlong into proper oddity next time.
I really enjoyed the first issue from artwork to story. It follows Grant McKay and his Anarchist League of Scientists having to deal with the repercussions of the invention of The Pillar, a device that transports people to other dimensions. The first issue dealt with the disastrous consequences of the first jump to an amphibian controlled hell planet in which Grant's Wife was killed in the process. Issue two finds Grant and his crew in the middle of a World War I like warzone of doom. The bad news is that they are stuck there for nearly four hours before they can jump to another dimension. The worse news is that they are in direct contact with hostiles out to kill and that there may just be a saboteur in their midst that has corrupted the Pillar making it near impossible for them to return to their own dimension. It seems pretty desperate to say the least.
The action has been fast paced and intense and the art is strong, flowing in an old seventies style that I find appealing as these were some of the types of comics that I grew up with as a youth. Once this issue is over, it appears that there are no good breaks in sight for the crew but I do know that I am looking forward to following every agonizing moment of it.
Score: Steve – 3/5, James – 4/5
Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Matteo Scalera Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 12/18/13