This has to be the least amount of time the first issue of a comic book has wasted getting right to the action. By least amount of time, I mean zero amount of time. Within the first page, an astronaut couple is running through a strange forest being chased by humanoid frogs riding giant eels. The chase never slows down until the last page and then it starts over again. Basically, writer Rick Remender and artist Matteo Scalera have taken the same approach as Mad Max Fury Road and make the whole story a chase scene in a strange environment and place as much bizarre images as possible. The result is Black Science, a non-stop rush of pure awesomeness. Black Science has the advantage of being released first and the disadvantage of not having a ground breaking trilogy behind it. That and it being part of the underappreciated medium of comic books.
“It wasn’t until I’d met everyone else’s measure of success that I realized I’d failed myself” says our hero Grant McKay “More importantly, I failed you.” He’s referring to his wife Sara. Despite her warnings, Grant obsessively dwelled into the field of forbidden science or black science. With his family by his side, he created portals into a chain of possible dimensions. And now he lives to regret it when his family and co-workers join him in a strange intergalactic dimension. And now Sara and Grant are running through a swamp of lightning being chased by anthropomorphic frogs, with only 10 minutes to get to the crew before they teleport out of there.
With the first issue, Black Science hits the ball running with a fast paced chase scene that doesn’t stop until the last page. Even though it’s just ink and paint, the panels are drawn with such a kinetic pace and perfect timing that it fills you with that hyperactive rush you would get from the greatest action scene. I found myself rushing through the pages with excitement.
And then I’d go back to gaze at the images. Remender and Scalera take the idea of an alternate dimension and runs with it faster than Sara and Grant. Every page in this comic sucks you in with bizarre and mythological images, especially in splash pages of a land with neon lighting storms, Buddha-like frog statues and giant turtles carrying Aztec images. And Scalera draws scenes with such grace that it’s easy to get sucked into the world, even in scenes of battles between fish people and frog people.
It is a huge gamble for a comic book to begin right away with a chase scene. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fully pay off because of what has been left out. The stuff I mentioned happening before the chase in the above summary? That is all told via narrative captions. Throughout the comic, Grant is narrating the earlier events and details his regrets. There is one great monologue where he imagines an alternate universe where he didn’t ignore his family over his career. Beyond that, the narrations work against the comic because it makes him come off as a bit whiny, especially when he should be running for his life.
Even with the narrative, there’s so much that’s not explained about the characters. When we see the space folks waiting for our heroes, we only get a vague idea of who these people are and more questions. Most notable, why is everyone wearing spacesuits except for the one guy in a business suit?
This feels like they took a scene from a graphic novel and tried to compress it into a standalone short. Sure there are other issues, but this should be an introduction for the series. Here is where we should get to know the characters, their goals and their conflict before you send them on their way. Despite this nitpicking, I still enjoyed this comic book. It’s still exciting to read this chase within the 20-pages. And I’m glad Black Science continues because this first issue would feel way more at home as a scene in a graphic novel.