You’ve probably noticed that our coverage of Image’s perilous cross-dimensional family romp, Black Science, is no longer a Dual Review here at Comic Bastards. The reason for this is simple: James, my fellow Bastard and former partner in crime in this venture ... has been lost to us. It happened when, as was our editorial tradition in preparation for the writing of this review, we slipped into an alternate universe and, in this case, entered into fisticuffs with the anthropomorphic possum overlords who ruled there with an iron fish. That’s not a typo, it was just a weird place.
After saving my life in a flourish of swordplay I could only describe as “calligraphic,” James not only fended off the otters or beavers or whatever I said they were above, but also kicked me through the dramatically-malfunctioning “portal opener” before it could collapse on top of us.
Unfortunately, he didn’t make it through, but right before he dropkicked me in what was once referred to in 1980s professional wrestling as “the solar plexus” (which also happens to be the name of my band), he looked at me with eyes that seemed to say, “Finish the review, Steve ... finish it for me.” I, meanwhile, looked back with eyes that seemed to say, “Look out behind you, there’s a surly-looking platypus with a bat'leth,” but I didn’t say anything out loud because spoilers, dude.
Anyway, this is my vengeance review, and in James’ honor, I am giving this issue full fucking marks, because I had an absolute blast reading Black Science #6. Much like this very article, this series had an odd start, but once again Remender’s slow narrative bleed has coagulated into a story that has left me thirsty for more.
Having suffered some or another form of tragedy in pretty much each issue since Grant McKay, his family, his mistress and their sundry hangers-on fell through their own portal and became lost in space between dimensions (think Sliders meets a dysfunctional Fantastic Four and you’ve got it), the “anarchist scientist” finally lets loose against the traitorous Kadir, his associate and project funder who was revealed to be the saboteur that thrust them rudderless across string theory in the first place.
Their issue-sweeping, alternatingly-narrated “bro-haha” has pretty much everything you would want in a quirky sci-fi book like this, including surprising developments in character pathos, an interesting new wrinkle or two in the already-battered “family” dynamic, parasitically-possessed man-monkeys (including beheadings of same) and of course, tragic irony.
One of the things I loved best about this issue was that it was so unpredictable, with exciting twists you probably won’t see coming. I know his style is a bit contentious with some of you fangirls and boys, but I generally like Remender’s stuff, and think that this is a great example of why.
Not only is this book brimming with action and great science fiction “what if” scenarios, it also does a wicked job of simultaneously building more compelling reasons to continue, from the new makeup of the traveling group after the events of Kadir and Grant’s fight, to the presence of yet another Pillar (their version of the portal-opener) in this dimension, not to mention the identity of the being that guards it.
At the same time, this is a story of parts, almost televisually episodic in nature, which is why I’ve also compared it to Quantum Leap in the past. Each new forced jaunt the ever-dwindling group takes is its own self-contained adventure, and Remender clearly has a lot of fun touching on the brief details that make each jump an intriguing appetizer of place.
This time, the relationship between the simian creatures and the plants they grow beneath their ice volcano fortress takes center stage, and I absolutely loved the twist; a great concept that exists in nature in our reality, but inflated to the Nth degree here, it’s suitably creepy as fuck. Seriously, take a handful of peyote and look up “cordyceps” on youtube, and I think you’ll be in the place Remender was when he wrote this.
The art is its own similar trip and if you haven’t seen it yet, you should pick up Black Science for Matteo Scalera’s work here alone. It’s a style I think is inimitable and perfect for this story in its flurry and omnipresent splatter, the latter of which, to be fair, is presumably thanks to the talents of colorist Dean White, who brings Scalera’s style to almost abrasive light. Stellar stuff, and a fun ride all around.
So there it is, my James Tribute Review gets the high-fives. I hope he would approve, wherever he is...
Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Matteo Scalera Colorist: Dean White Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 4/30/14 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital