Black Science #1 by Rick Remender – Friday Flash Review [Bane of Kings/Shadowhawk]

Black Science 01

Bane of Kings and Shadowhawk take a look at Rick Remender’s new series from Image Comics with artist Matteo Scalera.

An absolutely stellar first issue, Black Science might just be Rick Remender’s strongest work yet, and as a result it’s jumped right to the top of my pull list. A must read.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

“Quite an impressive story about desperation, bad choices and a pulp science fiction core that speaks of great adventures.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields

Bane of Kings:

Art: Matteo Scalero | Colours: Dean White | Cover: Andrew Robinson

Grant McKay, former member of The Anarchistic Order of Scientists, has finally done the impossible: He has deciphered Black Science and punched through the barriers of reality. But what lies beyond the veil is not epiphany, but chaos. Now Grant and his team are lost, living ghosts shipwrecked on an infinite ocean of alien worlds, barreling through the long-forgotten, ancient, and unimaginable dark realms. The only way is forward. The only question is how far are they willing to go, and how much can they endure, to get home again?

Join writer RICK REMENDER and the superstar art team of MATTEO SCALERA & DEAN WHITE for this face-melting science fiction epic spanning the lifetimes of a cast of dimensional castaways lead by the man who caused it all.

Rick Remender is one of my regular go-to writers at Marvel right now. Whilst I had to drop his Uncanny Avengers series due to budget and delays, I’ve been loving his Captain America book and couldn’t wait to try out Black Science when it hit the shelves on Wednesday and given Remender’s track record this book was something that I couldn’t afford to miss. I barely glanced at the synopsis and went into the book knowing pretty much nothing about it and it worked, with Remender delivering a wonderful read that sets up what is hopefully the start of a great new series that could find its way to my favourite Image Book within the next few issues, because based on #1 – this is an incredibly strong ‘pilot’ if you will and I can’t wait to see where this goes. Stellar stuff.

Like Captain America, Black Science reads like a pulpy adventure. It’s not something that you’d expect to find gracing the shelves of ‘new’ on the comics stacks. It’d be more at home in the bargain bins or tucked at the back of the store. However, don’t let that put you off – because Black Science is right up there with Trillium, Lazarus and The Wake as the very best first issues of the year – as Remender brings his A-Game to this book with a very solid start. I’ve loved everything that Remender has been giving us on Captain America month after month but Black Science is something else altogether. It’s arguably better than everything that Remender has written before and is as a result well worth checking out if you’re not the biggest fan of his Marvel stuff.

The main character of Black Science is Grant McKay, a member of the Anarchistic Order of Scientists. When we first meet him we don’t know that much about him immediately and he’s in trouble from the start. He’s smart and doesn’t posses your average level of intelligence, We get drawn into the character and his adventure and by the end of the issue we’re firmly left wanting more of the story. It’s compelling, engaging and joins the whole host of must-read new series that Image have been putting out recently, yet remains different than all of them that I’ve read so far. It’s just an incredibly strong piece of work, and capable of teasing you that we’re not done yet – something even bigger is on its way, and based on what I’ve seen here I’m certainly sticking around for more.

If you’re coming into this book with high expectations and I think pretty much everybody who’s liked Rick Remender’s work before is then Black Science will most likely meet them. I enjoyed pretty much everything about this book and there wasn’t really any major problems that I had with it, other than the fact that I want the next issue to be released as soon as possible so I can get my hands on it and just read more – because I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Unlike normal first issue comics, Remender doesn’t utilise any dumping of large amounts of exposition and neither does he need to fall into the trap of overloading the reader with information. The book also benefits from some amazing pulpy artwork with Matteo Scalero, who brings his A-Game to the title with the stunning colours of the awesome Dean White, making this book a strong combination of succesful writing and artistic talent – you really can’t go wrong here.

The less you know about Black Science though, the better. I went in knowing pretty much nothing about it and I was rewarded all the same. It’s certainly a book that I can see myself following for future issues and it’s a book that is pretty much essential reading for anybody who enjoys good science fiction comics. It’s original, fresh and entertaining. Count me in for #2.

Rating: 5/5

Black Science 01

Shadowhawk:

Aside from the newly-relaunched Captain America #1  last year, I’ve never read anything from Rick Remender. That particular issue didn’t work for me at all and I’ve never gone back to his writing. That is, until this issue of course. It was garnering a lot of buzz in the previews and before that even, so I was intrigued. And just a single issue doesn’t really give u a taste of a writer’s capabilities, so I was favourable towards giving Remender another chance. And man, he knocked it out of the work. Right from the start, the writing holds you in its grip and keeps you turning the pages.

Everything is written from the perspective of the protagonist, scientist Grant McKay, and as we see, he tells how a series of perfect mistakes have led him to the situation he is in now: running in fear of his life with his wife at his side on a strange world populated by humanoid sentient frogs who are brutally violent and where the landmasses, such as they are, are borne on the backs of gigantic turtles. Remender starts the issue with a perfect chase sequence, putting you right in the middle of things as they happen and that’s how he generates interest. The way it is written, there is a frantic desperation to the story and there is no reason for you to not keep flipping through.

The overall vision for the story is something straight out of a pulp science fiction adventure, but one that is violent and dark and full of dire consequences of bad decisions. Grant McKay’s voice is pretty much perfect and in keeping with that atmosphere that Remender is creating here and I was absolutely stunned. One by one, he teases out his various story elements, gives us a great insight into the character and reveals out the world he is building here, specifically the alien races.

Of course, there is an emotional component to everything, and that drives Grant to get back to his team’s base camp, where his children are waiting for him. That too contributes to the frantic pace of the story and it is pitch perfect. I have to say that I definitely hooked on to Remender’s writing based off this issue. If this is how the rest of the series is going to be, then I’m definitely on board for the next few issues. From a writing perspective, this is one of the best opening issues of a new series I’ve read this year, and there’ve been a few of those already, so Remender is definitely batting high right now with this issue.

Matteo Scalera does the internal artwork here, with Dean White doing the painted art (not sure exactly what that meas), with Rus Wooton on the lettering. Since the entire story in this issue takes place at night, there’s an added grim element to the story, and the artists prove equal to the challenge. Everything stands out, whether in the background or the foreground. Remender gives the two artists ample opportunities to do the occasional splash page, all of which were just beautiful. There’s one in particular with the turtles early on, and that is definitely my favourite page in the entire comic. Honestly, the quality of the art here is pretty much staggering. Scalera and White have a very distinct art style and they give full attention to the pulp roots of Remender’s story while also creating something modern, relative to today.

This comic turned out to be far better than I expected, and I have to say that I’m seriously impressed with this. I’d love to be reading this regularly and I’m for sure going to tune in next month. Image Comics, you will be getting more of my money from next month!

Rating: 9.5/10

Shadowhawk is a regular contributor to TFF. A resident of Dubai, Shadowhawk reads, reads and reads. His opinions are always clear and concise. His articles always worth reading.

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