I have always seen Rick Remender as a hit and miss writer. When he’s on, he’s one of the best, as with Uncanny Avengers. When he’s off, his work is miserable, as with his abysmal run on Captain America. This week sees the release of Black Science, his new creator-owned property released via Image. It’s a science fiction story, and a good one. Remender nails all the necessary points for an inaugural issue with equal points mystery, adventure, excitement, and drama. There’s also a throwback vibe to this story, a nod to ’70s and ’80s sci-fi adventures like Krull and Alien. All of it works to make Black Science #1 a great read.
Remender opens on two characters, both human, dressed in futuristic spacesuits, and running for their lives. Chasing after them are serpent creatures, something caught between fish and H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon. The two humans are Grant and Jen, and their story is told in an interesting way. Remender uses Grant as his vessel, giving us bits of information via a running inner monologue. Nothing is given freely, and Remender focuses more on who Grant is than why he’s on this bizarre planet. Grant is a scientist, one whose flaws nearly outweigh his genius. His ego got him involved with “black science,” but what that is or how it has led him here is a mystery.
Within the opening pages, Remender sets the stage that Black Science is a violent and adult tale. The scientist running alongside Grant, Jen, is killed, instantly and brutally. From there, Grant battles through the elements of an alien world to try and return to his family, who are also on this planet for some reason. Waiting with his family is a transport, something that needs to be fed by water in order to work. Making his way across the rough terrain, Grant finds himself at the mercy of blue humanoid frog creatures.
In a particularly disturbing scene, Grant frees a female version of the Dagon-style creatures that killed his partner. The female is being forced to dance for the blue frogs, as well as being tortured. Freeing her from her captors, Grant manages to make his way back to his family, who are there with the rest of Grant’s group. What happens next does not bode well for a safe return to Earth. Between the mystery of why they’re there and what “black science” is, coupled with the obvious adventure and sci-fi excitement, Remender easily hooks you in for issue #2.
Matteo Scalera’s art is a substantial part of why Black Science works. Scalera has a really wonderful eye for creating new worlds. Where ever Black Science takes place, it’s a fully realized place. The frog and Dagon creatures show no comical aspects. These are brutal killers, and this is their home. With Scalera’s pencils drawing the specifics of the world so well, the painted art of Dean White gives the setting a darkly other world feel. Combined, White and Scalera have created not just a setting, but another character in the story.
Black Science is a winner. Any sci-fi fan will be hooked.
(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)