BLACK SCIENCE #1/ Written by RICK REMENDER/ Art by MATTEO SCALERA/ Painted Art by DEAN WHITE/ Lettering by RUS WOOTEN/ Published by IMAGE COMICS
Imagine a less gallant version of the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards thrust into a musty back issue of Heavy Metal magazine and you might have something close to Black Science, the new creator-owned title from Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera, and Dean White.
The premier issue starts with a bang, wasting no time with lengthy introductions. We’re thrown into action Raiders of the Lost Ark-style, with a team of bubble-helmeted sci-fi adventurers fleeing the many dangers of a dark alien planet populated by barbarian fish-people and imperious frogs. Everything is a threat to quasi-protagonist Grant McKay (Reed Richards meets Johnny Rotten) and his gang of anarchist scientists, who may or may not be operating with the best of intentions.
Remember how Star Trek away teams effortlessly beamed in and out of unknown civilizations with the casualness of buying a chili dog? Black Science flips that scenario on its head. These space-farers are thrown into thickets of weirdness and violence, with little in the way of a Prime Directive guiding the proceedings. McKay and company espouse an odd anarchist dogma, with a dash of Carl Sagan in the mix. Alien speech runs without translation, because aliens. The unrelenting other worldliness builds up to form an encompassing and exciting take on classic science fiction setups.
The art is gorgeous. Dark landscapes are punctuated by splashes of teal and fuchsia from painter Dean White, and artist Matteo Scalera infuses the characters with a punchy energy. There’s an electric pulse throughout, but it’s refined and controlled. The result is a series of dramatic set pieces and some truly exhilarating transitions. This is comic art that raises the heart rate.
As the breakneck pace springs forward, Remender drops hints of a larger story at work without ever completely shining a light on the whole picture. Drawing from serialized fiction of old, Remender seems to trust that readers are up to the task of piecing together disjointed facts and might actually relish the obfuscated bits of mystery thrown into his pulp stew. With so many comics on the stands reading like procedural TV shows, Remender structures the experience of Black Science in a way that feels exclusive to comic books.
The title Black Science may be clue enough that the subject matter is mostly without cheer and carries a decidedly adult vibe. F-bombs are dropped, pot smoking is admitted to, and there’s a stripper scene. Remender and company present a pastiche of the violent, raunchy action flicks stepdads everywhere once rented on VHS, but played straight and without irony. The cocktail is balanced correctly, with no one element of adultness–sex, violence, depravity–dominating too much of the flavor. Action is the main dish here, and it propels the book in such a way that the R-rated asides set the scenes without stealing them. It’s mature readers stuff to be sure, but compared to the average episode of Game of Thrones, Black Science is lighthearted.
Rick Remender fans looking for something in the vein of his Fear Agent run will find much to love in Black Science, and the strong art from Matteo Scalera and Dean White make it a book sure to attract new audiences based on its looks alone. Reverberating with the manic beat of a punk song, Black Science #1 delivers a trip worth taking for aficionados of pulpy action.