Black Science #3 – Friday Flash Review
Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings take a look at the third issue of one of Image’s newest titles.
“An absolutely stunning issue that works on just about every level that you can imagine. Which is fitting given the central theme of the story in this issue: the onion.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
“Black Science delivers yet another stunning issue, with Remender, Scalera & White knocking it out of the park yet again. A Must Read” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
When I put Black Science on the list of Top 5 New Comics of 2013, I understated things, in retrospect. This is an amazing book that is firing on all cylinders, whether we talk story or art, and it is one of the very, very few comics right now to be doing that. It doesn’t help though that 2013 saw the debut of a lot of great comics, most of them in the ongoing category. Black Science ended up going against some really stuff competition but it has still managed to stand out of the crowd because of its core concept: a group of scientists and two kids trapped in a dimension where WW2 German soldiers are fighting against a technologically superior Native American tribe. Its a damn cool concept and the creative team on this series has certainly been doing the idea justice.
The first two issues alternatively provided both action and character drama. They both had their strengths the way they were written, and almost nothing in the way of any weaknesses. This week’s Black Science #3 perfectly marries the two together to create a comic that is better than either of them, and that’s no small feat. We see how the action is segued into the character drama via a ton of emotional tension between the characters, whether we talk about Grant McKay’s relationship with his kids, his relationship with his assistant Rebecca, Kadir’s pompous bureaucraticness, Ward’s feelings towards the rest of the group, Rebecca’s treatment of a captured German soldier, and much, much more.
I loved how Rick Remender teased out the larger story (mostly the backstory) of where the characters are headed. We see the inception of the Pillar in detail and learn how it works. We learn how the relationships between the various characters form and how they in turn inform the rest of the story. We learn just how good the Native American tribe really is with their technology and the benefits therein. And none of it slows down.
Remender maintains a rather brutal pace in this issue. Not as blistering as in the first issue with the chase story, but brutal nonetheless. I kept reading and turning the pages without any kind of breaks in between. I didn’t want to take my eyes off the pages for even an instant because I didn’t want to miss anything here. The issue held my interest and my attention all throughout and there was never a moment where I felt that anything here was particularly bad.
All I can say is that writing is just superb. Remender balances the hard SF nature of the story very well against the pulp roots. He gives you enough science to dazzle you if you are not that well-versed in science while also giving those interested lots of details to latch on to and sink their teeth in to. Remender has definitely made me a fan of his with this book, I must say.
Where the art is concerned, I loved every bit of it. Matteo Scalera’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous from start to finish and so are Dean White’s colours and his painted art style, which really sells the pulp nature of the comic. What more can be asked of them? Their depiction of the Native American tribe is great, as are their technological marvels. The characters are much more expressive this time and their faces are more detailed as well. Really, I have not a single critcism of the art.
I just loved the comic in its entirety!
Bane of Kings:
Story: Rick Remender | Art: Matteo Scalera | Colours: Dean White
Shell-shocked and battered, Grant McKay and his team are stranded on the front lines of the European savages’ final standoff against the Sons of the Wakan Tech-Tanka. Will this inverse manifest destiny claim the life of a member of the Anarchist League of Scientists? Or will they be betrayed by one of their own?
Black Science is yet another success story for Image and just three issues in, it has certainly become one of the best titles that were launched in 2013. Remender is doing a great job on this title with arguably his best book yet – but the quality is even more improved when you consider the likes of Matteo Scalera and Dean White are working on the book with pencils and colours respectively, creating a great pulpy science fiction feel that continues into its forthcoming issues.
Each issue Black Science creates some stunning first pages that really draw you in and scream ‘must buy’. This is something that all of the issues so far have had in common with excellent first pages, and in the case of Black Science #3 it’s a great portrayal of a city skyline that captures your eye. Image have produced some of the best looking books around in the form of titles like Saga and Rocket Girl, with art from the likes of Fiona Staples and Amy Reeder respectively, and Black Science brings a great unique feel for the book that sets it completely aside from the other two series yet makes it stand equally on their level. If you’re not a fan of Remender’s work (and very few people aren’t) then this book is worth buying for the artwork alone – it’s just jaw-droppingly good.
Of course, why would you buy this just for the artwork alone even if you didn’t like Remender’s work? The storytelling is incredibly good and as the world continues to grow with some flashbacks allowing for character depth – we really get a good sense of the stakes. By now we’re well acquainted with the characters with Remender writing some great ones, they’re flawed, imperfect and this really allows for some good character development which I’m hopeful that Remender will continue to cover in the forthcoming issues. The characters are just as important as the story and Grant McKay and his team might not be the most memorable characters of all time, they’re starting to make more and more of an impression, which is a good thing indeed.
Not only are the characters given greater depth but also the universes that Remender is creating are fleshed out in greater detail. Like #1 and #2 the book still manages to be fast paced but it’s not as lightning fast as the previous issues, as this issue becomes more of an exploration of character with motivations and more revealed about them.
The artistic duo in Matteo Scalera and Dean White is a perfect match and their work really shines in this series. It’s great, pulpy – dynamic and creative allowing for a really distinctive feel that helps create the atmosphere of the book with some good layouts to boot. The book itself is still in its early stages and we’re barely getting started on this journey that the creative team are taking us on but already you get the impression that they’re pulling out all the stops on this title, delivering their A-Game. If you read one Image series that was launched in 2013 you really have to make it Black Science – because it’s just that good. Certainly one of my favourite titles at the moment.