Quarantine. It’s not a word nor an act I ever imagined being forced upon the bulk of our nation. Yet as many have said this is unchartered territory with a virus whose effects could be catastrophic if we don’t take extreme measures. So, into quarantine and home isolation most of us have gone and a surreal new world has washed over our society. We comic readers have also (mildly in the grand scheme of things) seen a change to our weekly routine as the majority of new comics are suspended for the foreseeable future, leaving a gap in our lives. Yet the beauty of comics is that weekly new books is but a minor part of the behemoth back catalog of comics created. So, as the quarantine continues and is extended, I’ve decided this is an excellent opportunity to delve into my back log of comics, into the stacks of trades and long boxes of comics that I’ve been meaning to read or to revisit classic runs that were impactful on my evolution as a comic book fan.
I have a habit. I rarely read Image Comics on a monthly basis. There are a handful of titles I can’t wait for but for the most part I buy Image in trades. Then sadly I usually read the first trade when it comes out and if I enjoy it, I get the second but I’m not as quick to read that second and then suddenly the third and fourth have arrived and before too long I have an entire series in trade. This happens more than I would like to admit as my basement library is littered with piles of trades to be read and sadly one of these was Rick Remember and Matteo Scalera’s brilliant Black Science. I remember enjoying the first trade and being blown away with both the art and storytelling as Remender seemed to embrace hard science fiction theoretical quantum mechanics and how unlike series from the big 2 absolutely no one was safe. I don’t know why I didn’t jump all over the second trade but for some reason it went on the pile, as did the second, and so on until I had all nine trades, the series was over and I finally had the time to read the whole thing and I am so happy that I did.
Black Science is at its heart a tale of family, an extremely messed up family, but family all the same. Grant McKay, a former member of the Anarchist Order of Scientists, who does not believe in the established order of things and still hanging onto his revolutionary roots even if it means ignoring his wife Sara and being an absent father to his children, Pia and Nate. McKay had to take a job with his former rival, in science and the love of Sara, Kadir for a large corporation Blokk Industries. McKay builds the Pillar, a device that will allow McKay and his team of Dimensionauts to penetrate the Onion AKA the multiverse as they travel from reality to reality to find the cures for all human ills. Shockingly everything goes bad from the beginning and what was supposed to be a simple jump to another world devolves into a multi-year excursion where no one is safe and the threats are infinite.
I started Black Science a few years ago when it first started and was impressed with not only the story but Scalera’s artwork, which is so unique and detailed. His technology was both fantastic but logical and shockingly realistic to the situations. But I found Black Science hard to get back into each time a new volume came out so while I collected them all I decided not to read the story until it was complete and I am so glad that I did. Like a great novel Black Science is an incredible read. Remender’s anarchist leanings are on full display with his protagonist, Grant McKay who is an incredibly complex character and one that is hard to come to like, in the beginning and for some ever. He is at his core a complete asshole but somehow, I found myself rooting for him and wanting him to redeem himself. The concept for Black Science is straightforward for any comic fan, where multiverses are common place, but Remender adds realistic science to it and shows the ramifications of penetrating one universe after another. No need for a monitor or an anti-monitor when human exploration and selfishness can be damaging enough. Yet as dense as the science can be Rememder made Black Science accessable and with Scalera’s artwork it reads and looks like a sci-fi pulp novel.
Another impressive aspect of Black Science is how science fiction can encompass so many sup genres. While quantum mechanics and hard science are an overarching theme Black Science also delves into fantasy, superheroics, apocalyptic landscapes, and even cooperate espionage. There’s also deep family drama, broken marriages, jilted loves, revenge, and as I stated before- redemption. It’s this personal story that really kept me hooked to Black Science. The McKay family is an absolute mess, as are many families, but it’s a mess full of love and it’s that love that is the driving force for the entirety of Black Science and it was a treat to read the evolution and devolution of Grant McKay and to see how his family, friends, allies, and enemies respond to him.
So if you’re looking for something to read as you’re staying safe at home and want to have an incredibly good time then you can’t go wrong with Black Science!