Review: Black Science #24

I can honestly say that I didn’t see anything that happened in this issue coming, and I’m still not sure what to make of it all. Did I like it? I don’t really know, in no small part because the twist that comes is so large and so out of left-field that I’m still trying to integrate it into my understanding of the story. It is going to change this series pretty dramatically, so I guess we’re going to have to get used to it.

Grant McKay makes the not-quite-ultimate but still very serious sacrifice for Pia, giving Doxta his intellect in exchange for the Oxen Heart. She keeps her end of the bargain and peace is restored to the world, but surprisingly, Pia decides to come with Grant instead, perhaps seeing that her father really has changed. Rather than taking her along, though, he decided that the safest thing to do would be to take her back to their dimension so that her mother won’t be left wondering what happened to them. But therein lies a new and unforeseen problem: not only is Kadir married to Pia’s mother, the original founder of the project immediately seizes the Pillar from Grant, planning to use it for his own ends.


Part of me really thought that Grant would back out before surrendering his mind to the witch. After all, it is so central to his character that I thought he might blanche, or at least figure out some trick to allow him to cheat the witch (though presumably with some tragic consequences, because this is Rick Remender). But I suppose that screwing over Pia one more time would have been a Rubicon for Grant that would have forever ended him as a sympathetic character. I actually caught myself enjoying the first half of the comic because of the all-too-rare good vibes.

But the man returning to seize the Pillar just feels so out of left-field that I don’t know what to do with it. I honestly assumed they’d landed in an alternate reality. Perhaps he was mentioned early on, but it’s been long enough that I simply don’t remember him. And the fact that Grant’s entirely rational decision has once again brought about disaster almost feels too cruel. This comic has been one series of catastrophes after another, with Grant always at the center of them. Any time he thinks he’s doing good out there, he’s really sowing salt. But at least before, it was because of arrogance and overconfidence. Repeating this same trope again just feels cruel, and all too familiar.

Nor is Pia’s rage toward Kadir entirely logical; whatever lie he told Pia’s mother was probably more comforting than “your mad genius husband is dimension hopping with them,” and in all fairness, he was wrongly stabbed in the chest. I suppose this does reunite Kadir with the others and explain the previously-notable absence of his blip, but I’m still not sold on this latest twist.

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Black Science #24 Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Mateo Scalera, Moreno Dinisio Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital


Review: Tokyo Ghost #10

Sigh… As we all know too well, all good things must come to an end. This is my review of the tenth and final issue of Sean Gordon Murphy and Rick Remender’s Tokyo Ghost.  First and foremost, this series has been great throughout, so to see it ending makes me a bit sad. Tokyo Ghost is a story about dependency; a love story with some incredible art and storytelling which is really easy to get behind. I took a lot away from this and I think Murphy and Remender have crafted a story here that will stay with readers for a good long while.

Tokyo Ghost #10Now, I can’t really say much about the contents of the issue, it’d be a bit of a dick move for me to ruin the last issue of such a great series but, as it stands (and what you know already if you’ve been reading it), it’s the final showdown between Debbie and that villainous fuck, Davey Trauma. He’s about to murder everyone on the planet and download 'em into a completely digital existence. No way, Davey. Debbie has a choice to make and it’s not an easy one for her…

Hot damn. Rick Remender's written a strong finish to this series. It's been an emotional roller coaster, lots of feels and fair dues to Rick because of that. He's got me to care about how this story ended and that's a rare thing these days. Great ending, too.

You get a lot of great visuals from artist Sean Gordon Murphy and colorist Matt Hollingsworth this issue, too. I like art when it’s like this, there’s a lot of emotion to the art and you can feel it pouring in through your eyeballs. Hollingsworth has done a great job putting the colors to it, a really rich neon/Day-Glo color scheme that gives you that menacing buzz of electricity throughout.

Tokyo Ghost is a comic with a creative team who are giving 110% and by the time I reached the end of it, I was more than happy with what I’d read. This is a fine conclusion to a story I’ve really enjoyed, and if you’re a fan of the series, you won’t be disappointed either.

If you haven’t read any of Tokyo Ghost and you’ve just landed here out of curiosity, give your local comic book retailer this code (JAN160652) for the first trade, tell ‘em to order it for you, thank me later.

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Tokyo Ghost #10 Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Sean Gordon Murphy Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital


Group Review: Seven To Eternity #1

Not only do we have a group review, which is pretty damn special in general, but it's also an advanced review! That's right, the participating writers will each give their score and thoughts about Image's newest title from Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña. [su_quote url=""]The God of Whispers has spread an omnipresent paranoia to every corner of the kingdom of Zhal; his spies hide in every hall spreading mistrust and fear. Adam Osidis, a dying knight from a disgraced house, must choose between joining a hopeless band of magic users in their desperate bid to free their world of the evil God, or accepting his promise to give Adam everything his heart desires. Writer RICK REMENDER reteams with collaborators JEROME OPEÑA (Uncanny X-Force, Fear Agent) and MATT HOLLINGSWORTH (TOKYO GHOST, WYTCHES) to take you on a hard road through the strange fantasy world of Zhal. All men have surrendered their freedom for fear. Now, one last free man must choose.[/su_quote]


I think everyone at one point in their life has heard the dusty old proverb “you can’t judge a book by its cover” (though I’m not sure if that’s true in the world of comics?). You can, however, judge a book by its author, so here is a nickel’s worth of free advice: if said author happens to be Rick Remender, do yourself a favor – buy that book.

This was a fantastic read! RR has proven yet again that he is the undisputed king of comic book science-fiction by delivering a most original, imaginative work that’s sure to be an instant classic. The character development occurs instantaneously and flawlessly. With just the first few panels Remender is able to expertly forge a lasting bond with his reading audience that makes reading Seven to Eternity a totally immersive experience.

seven-to-eternity-1If the writing alone weren’t enough (which it is), Seven to Eternity has got to be the most visually stunning, incredibly beautiful, jaw-dropping, eye-achingly gorgeous book of the entire year. Jerome Opeña has literally blown my mind wide-open: his panels boast some of the craziest, most wildly awesome art that I have ever seen – period. Of course, I would be doing an incredible disservice if I made no mention at all of the brilliant mad-colour-scientist, Matt Hollingsworth, whose signature electric pallet is the artistic climax of the entire issue.

I can’t say enough good things about seven to Eternity; it’s Remender, Opeña, and Hollingsworth at their best (Rus Wooton too of course). Enjoy this one, for this is what comic dreams are made of.

ZEB: 3/5

As much as I love Rick Remender, this series didn’t grab me as forcefully as, say, Black Science did in its inaugural issue. Part of the problem is that the narration starts to flag in the second half. At the beginning, it deals with relatively familiar issues, like a refusal to compromise with evil or the desire to protect one’s family. Those are all strong emotions to tap into, good for narrative worldbuilding. But the references to lost temples and whatever a Mosak pushes the reader away because we don’t have the context to appreciate them. Adam spends so much time talking about the world, but none of it is really explanatory. What are the different factions? Are the races united, or separated? I finished this and felt really confused.

I will say though that Rick Remender’s worldbuilding pairs beautifully with Jerome Opeña and Matt Hollingsworth’s art. Fantasy series should never be dull to look at, but this is gorgeous to look at by anybody’s standards. Everything has a grungy sort of feel to it, like the beasts in this world are infected with something; it’s apropos in a world where one of the most dangerous beings is known as the “Mud King.” This is not the neat and tidy high fantasy you might see elsewhere; it’s as if a few centuries of pollution ruined Middle Earth.

I don’t doubt that this could be an engaging series in time, but it’s clearly going to take some time. It certainly looks beautiful, but I’m not sure whether the story is going to draw me in. I need to know more about this world, and given that the central tension (will Adam accept the deal) is going to be answered in the second issue, I’m wondering what further hook will sustain this.

ASA: 2/5

Rick Remender has always struck me as an undisciplined writer. His work rambles, rages, and recalibrates, often becoming a mire of overwrought narration, gory violence, and stream of consciousness adventure. While Seven to Eternity avoids the lowest rung of Remender books (Devolution, sigh, Devolution...), it still encapsulates many of his worst qualities with very few redeeming ones. Here his vast fantasy world is lost in the constant babble of exposition and angsty posturing. The world is given a grand total of four pages to be established before things jump right into the epic plot, meaning we have no understanding of the stakes of the world once things get going. The characters are painfully dull, and the story itself feels like every recent Remender book mashed together (guilty fathers, angry children, monstrous monsters, lots of shouting, etc.). It's not good.

And yet, with all this going on, you simply cannot ignore the work of Jerome Opeña who delivers visuals that deserve to be paired with a much better script. For my Money, Opeña's evocative pencils are the best in the business, and a break from the big two allows him to play on a larger canvass. He draws grand vistas, horrifyingly gigantic monsters, and haunting alien cities and somehow retains his talent for subtle, distinctive character work. I don't want to read more Seven to Eternity, but I can't recommend the art enough.


Hi there. If you follow the site or listened to this week's podcast you're probably wondering what the hell I'm doing on a Rick Remender comic review. Possibly because I've never hidden the fact that I've only enjoyed one, maybe a few issues in the entirety of the man's career. I'm not a "Remender Guy" to put it plainly. I found his latest dystopian future setting to wear its influences on its sleeves. That aside though it's okay. It's not without some interesting aspects, but it just so very Remender.

For some, that's a positive but for me, it's like reading the same book over and over again with a different setting. Sure the "We're all fucked" message shifts ever so slightly. You can describe ever series he does the exact same way and yet when you describe them they all kind of feel the same. "What about Deadly Class" some of you are screaming, sure it's not dystopian but it is very Remender. The end all be all is that the story is okay, but I'm so very burnt out on reading anything by Remender. You may not be able to nail his twists and sure his character development will be solid, but at the end of the day, you know the feeling of everything he's going to do. It never feels any different. "We're all fucked" is pretty much the message and I guess I just don't care for that to be the only outlook in his comics anymore.

I cover the art on the podcast pretty thoroughly so if you want to hear why I find Opeña's art style boring, then go listen to the podcast and be outraged alongside Steve. I know plenty of people will like this, but Remender books are like Marvel movies to me; here comes another one, yup, it's another one.

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Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Jerome Opeña Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital


Review: Black Science #23

Black Science #23 sees Grant McKay on a mission to try and win back his daughter by going on a quest to visit an evil witch and retrieve an artifact that will fix the mess that he’s created. Is this going to be straightforward or easy? No, because Rick Remender is the one who’s writing this story, and he seems to take a great deal of pleasure in humiliating his characters and making them suffer. There are no heroic action sequences here, and when the fighting comes, it only emphasizes the powerlessness of the protagonist. All in all, it’s a normal issue for this book.

Despite Pia asking Grant to not go after Doxta the witch, he ignores her, steals her fiancé’s horse, and heads into the Withering Wood. Pia initially contemplates letting him go off on his own, but while she manages to talk her people out of following him, she can’t let him go alone either. Grant’s little sojourn doesn’t go well at all, and after stumbling through in his usual Grant way, he finds himself face-to-face with the witch. He’s given an ugly choice between walking away empty-handed or giving Doxta his mind, so that she might unlock the key to Black Science.


Grant’s really gotten himself in a true conundrum. He’s accepted that he won’t get Pia to come back with him and he’s determined to fix the mess he made, which is a good start. But he’s also been vowing for the past ten issues that he will leave worlds no worse than he found them, which is a mantra he repeats a few times here. If he accepts the deal that’s been offered to him, he’s going to unleash a second awful force on the Eververse, on top of that Mantid death-cult that’s still kicking around out there. But if he refuses…well, at least the world he’s in will collapse into outright warfare.

The witch’s offer is a real test of Grant, and I’m wondering whether that might be the point. She talks about forgiveness, sacrifice, and trying to make amends, and so she makes an offer that would reduce Grant to a normal person but possibly repair his relationship with Pia. If that were true, that might be his “out” in this situation, but that rests on two assumptions: Doxta isn’t quite as evil as she has been made out to be, and Grant is willing to set aside his ego for the sake of a greater good. Grant has been willing to put himself in harm’s way plenty of times, so we know that he doesn’t fear physical harm. But his intellect has been such a part of his character, and it’s never been on the line in a meaningful way. It’s how we’ll see whether Grant really changed as a result of the “Godworld” arc.

On a lighter note, is Grant’s brain damaged? He cracks wise a lot more than he used to, which has been a constant since Godworld, and he mentioned something in #17 or #18 about losing his memories because of the place he was trapped.

I’ve really enjoyed this particular world and its fantasy-meets-science arc, but the preview for the next issue makes it sound as though Grant might be returning home. What’s going to happen? I honestly can’t see an easy path from this issue’s conclusion to our world, or rather, one that doesn’t end in disaster for a lot of people. Business as usual, and Black Science is as good as ever.

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Black Science #23 Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Matteo Scolera Colorist: Moreno Dinisio Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital