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The first issue of Rick Remender’s Black Science was riveting down to the final page. Its successor is the farthest thing from a disappointment. The dimension in which our heroes find themselves this time around makes the land of frog warriors look like Disney Land. In this particular world, the script has been flipped; here, it’s the Europeans that are totally unprepared for an invasion by the native people of an uncharted continent. Dropped in the middle of a battlefield, Grant and his team are tasked with surviving. What they find is that this isn’t so much a war as it is a massacre, and the European Rebellion Coalition is on the losing end of it.
Team is a word I use reluctantly when describing Grant and company. Sure, some of them are part of the team of scientists responsible for the creation of the Pillar, the machine that brought them to their current circumstance—the team that delved into black science and who are probably now wondering how righteous their cause really is. It takes one hell of a team to do what they did. However, they aren’t the only ones on this interdimensional field trip. Kadir is along for the ride, and he’s the man who funded the project. Ward, a dishonorably discharged war veteran hired as security, is also present. And of course, Grant’s children are there, the least consenting of the bunch.
It seems now is as good a time as any to allow their deeply rooted tensions and antagonisms to rise to the surface, and it has created a fascinating dynamic. This “team” is made up of a group of people who don’t get along, and for whom circumstance has exacerbated their already present points of conflict. This story has layers, and much like the overlapping dimensional web in which they’re trying to climb up out of alive, it’s difficult to determine just how deep those layers go. There’s an emotional drama playing out in the midst of this chaos, and it’s in these characters’ most vulnerable moments that we learn most about them.
The first issue gave us Grant and his concerns, insecurities, and philosophies, as well as provided a measure of his grit, a gauge for just how much he can bend without breaking. This issue has given us almost everyone else, with the exception of Shawn and Chandra, characters I hope to get to know very well. Hell, this issue even gave us a bit of Jen, the character that didn’t survive the first ten pages of the first issue. She was a genuine scientist trying to better mankind, the sort of scientist Grant pretends to be but knows he isn’t, the type who works for something other than their own personal indulgences.
Rebecca is scared to see this project end; scared of what might happen when she’s no longer needed. Kadir is a man who hides behind his wealth; he buys what his own hard work and resourcefulness can’t bring him. Ward is a fiercely loyal soldier who was shunned by his own people, and there’s nothing he won’t do to show Grant that the second chance he was given wasn’t for nothing. Chandra appears to be Kadir’s only ally who’s close to the actual research, and Shawn is a well-liked scientist, a man who’s trying to make the best of a bad situation.
That I’m able to pull all of this from the second issue alone is homage to Remender’s writing. Not a singe part of these thirty pages was wasted—sixty when considering the first issue as part of the whole. This is a human story about real, living and breathing people who are in over their heads. It’s a bonus that the worlds they travel to are overwhelmingly imaginative, that the stakes are raised at each and every turn, that the danger in which they find themselves feels as real as you and me. Black Science is truly a triumph.
Matteo Scalera is the mastermind behind the pictures, the man who put a face to each of these colorful and vibrant people. There’s a touch of the abstract in his unique style, but not to the point of confusion—far from it actually. The horrors we encounter in these pages are vividly depicted. The expressions and mannerisms of these highly emotional characters are displayed with great clarity. I am waiting with baited breath to not only see more of the dimension they’re in now, but to see—not just read, but see—where the Pillar takes them next. Between this and his work on Dead Body Road, Matteo Scalera is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite artists.
Black Science #2 is out of this world—rather, out of this dimension! I couldn’t even begin to speculate about what’s to come, and I wouldn’t do this comic the injustice of trying. Rick Remender and company have earned my trust and then some. Will Ward, Kadir, and Shawn reach a shaman in time to save Grant? Will Grant be saved in time to fix the Pillar? Will the “team” ever make it home, or will they jump between dimensions until they’re all dead? With Black Science, I’ve come to expect it all.