Being that I was on my own trans-world jaunt this past summer, I wasn’t able to cover Black Science #8. That’s a damn shame, because in my opinion, it was one of the best issues of this Image series to date. Not only did it define the title of the book with a great look into the Shaman’s backstory, it also continued the fast-paced, fatal verve this series has employed since its outset, with a well-measured amount of action, multiverse history building and perilous intrigue that could rip this already devastated family unit even further asunder. Issue nine might not be as striking as that which preceded it, but it does continue the second arc’s more character-driven approach to story; in this case, looking back at a harrowing event in the early life of ‘Becca, former head researcher and mistress of Grant McKay. The way Remender juxtaposes that experience with what she was forced to do on the front lines of a war the team stumbled upon during one of their first jumps, not to mention the misadventure the McKay children now find themselves in this issue, is powerful stuff.
I also really enjoy how the writer and Scalera are drawing out the mythos of this story, both in the Shaman’s recounting of his own history with Pillar technology last time, and the encounter the McKids have this time with their apparently pillar-worshipping, telepathic insectoid captors. There has been a heap of evidence that the team’s so-called invention of cross-dimensional conveyance was anything but, and instead just another bullet point on an ever-growing list of inter-dimensional practitioners.
With each new issue, we’re getting closer to the center of “the onion,” as McKay once called the infinitely-layered multiverse, but we’re getting there with a meticulous teasing that is as manifold as Black Science’s many worlds. It’s one of those rare occasions where I look forward as much to the reveal as I do to the journey.
The only story element I wasn’t so sure about this issue was the one that saw its end. I won’t spoil it - although maybe even mentioning it already does, so be warned reading on - but we see the “return” of a once-thought dead character back into the mix ... and I’m not convinced it’s a good thing.
Now, in multiversal books like Black Science, wherein a pseudo-scientific version of string theory dictates that there could be innumerable versions of one character, this one may not be (and probably isn’t) the person we saw die. Still, I thought that character’s death was such a shock to the system, that it made the book’s character dynamic refreshingly unexpected. We’ll see what Remender has planned, but I hope he’s not wielding his dimensional premise like some deus ex machina that can fix everything he’s worked so hard - and so well - to destroy.
Visually, Scalera remains a perfect match for Remender in terms of storytelling. This and past issues may not have the stoney sheen that its very first issue enjoyed, but there is no denying the artist’s atmospherically-blotted, hurried mastery of both action and expression. This may be a book about infinite worlds, but there is simply no other book that enjoys the same visual relish that this one does. As long as Scalera and Remender team up to deliver a story that begs me to read it further, I’ll be here to enjoy the dark art of Black Science.
Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Matteo Scalera Colorist: Dean White Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 10/8/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital