In days past, those who practiced heretical arts were accused of black magic. Any sufficiently analyzed science is indistinguishable from magic. Ergo, in days to come, those who practice heretical physics will be guilty of BLACK SCIENCE. Grant McKay is one such practitioner; his anarchist bent for unnatural philosophy will doom himself and everyone around him.
For all its pretensions of transparency, discipline, and impartial judgments, the scientific community is just like every other collection of people. It has it’s politics, dogma, and norms. There will always be a “consensus”, certain ideas that the ruling majority maintains, and woe befall an individual scientist for seriously exploring contrary postulates. Not because of violent maintenance, but from crippling social pressure and open ridicule. For anyone who delves into forbidden topics, they might as well be committing heresy.
In BLACK SCIENCE, one particular group of techno heretics ventures where man was not meant to go, with awful consequences.
BLACK SCIENCE #1 introduces readers to Grant McKay, a self-studied scientist who rejected the organizational norms of the community in order to found his own movement. A movement of anarchist explorers beholden only to their own individual assertions. Grant’s apparent goal: to learn about the wonders of the Eververse. He’s collected a group of people, including collegues, his irksome financier, and even his own children.
Their travels to various places in time and space promise to get them all killed. For Black Science!
This series is heavily reminiscent of old school SF, particularly the works of Ray Bradbury. Dropping readers into an adventure already in progress, with scientists desperately trying to survive an alien landscape populated by warring tribes of fish and frog people. Excellent mood making.
BLACK SCIENCE comes to us from the mind of Rick Remender, an animator-turned-comic writer with experience in the indie scene. The issue concludes with a letter from Remender, where he ties his own addiction to making comic books and the experiences in the independent market with the premise of this title. Of undaunted pursuit of one’s passion, regardless of uncertainty.
Rimender is also the man who wrote Franken-Castle, so take from that what one will.
As stated above, the writing feels like vintage SF. If this adventure had been adapted into text and wedged into a collection of “classic” SF literature, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. We get a strong introduction to main character Grant McKay, into the neurotic motivations and deepest regrets, especially towards his children and those pulled into his misadventures. The narration is pretty wordy, but it gets the job done and certainly isn’t on the level of Silver Age purple prose.
Meanwhile, the artwork on BLACK SCIENCE is positively gorgeous. Matteo Scalera’s color choices are so rich, bringing the super science and the alien worlds to resplendent light. I’m not exaggerating, this book is just a feast for the eyes. Of course the book also makes use of deep shades, but one expects nothing less given the name.
BLACK SCIENCE #1 marks the beginning of a retro futurist throwback to everything great about SF. Its high concept is pulled off brilliantly, where people in exaggerated pressure suits do battle with primitive tribes of alien organisms. Where all the inventions of man take a back seat to raw, pulpish heroics…albeit a mite deconstructively. Bluster like an action hero, and frog men are just as liable to call your bluff. There’s another aspect of Grant McKay: deep-seated pacifism forced to contend with pressing danger and unavoidable violence. Where and when, and to what extent, will our “hero” continue to compromise his principles to ensure the survival of himself and his crew?
BLACK SCIENCE #1 is a great read, and receives my recommendation.