Rick Remender’s Black Science has kept readers enthralled over 8 volumes and 38 issues of science fiction, action-adventure, and family drama. The elevator pitch for the series could be summarized as Lost in Space meets This Is Us.
Self-described “anarchist scientist” Grant McKay completed the Pillar Project, a device capable of jumping through reality and traveling to substitute dimensions. But when do things ever go as planned? After malfunctioning, the machine spits out Grant, his team, and two children into one alternate realm after another. In the whirl of bedlam, Grant manages to save his children and return them to their respective reality. However, they soon discover that the Pillar rips through reality, breaking down the walls that govern the known universes. Countless realities merged into Grant’s own when Kadir, Grants multiversal nemesis removes their world from every other in isolation. Now Grant and Sara are left to find their kids, repair their relationship, and fix every known reality along with it.
Volume 7 of Black Science was characterized by bombastic action and a flood of sci-fi tropes carefully placed into four issues of adrenaline-filled cliffhangers. Volume 8 takes a step back from the frenetic pace, instead putting the focus on the patriarch and matriarch of the McKay family. Grant and Sara’s marriage (or lack thereof) has seemingly been torn to asunder; a marriage filled with Infidelity, lying, and transgression. Grant’s destructive nature consumes everything around him, literally and metaphorically. The very fabric of the creation is in peril due to Grant’s reckless behavior. His marriage mirrors the universal calamity.
Remender’s writing caters to both science fiction fans and those seeking a personal story. Most science fiction allows creators to use fantastical elements to explore humanity; Black Science does just that with aplomb. Grant and Sara find themselves trapped within a trans-dimensional couples counseling facility. The setting allows Remender to go about mending their relationship physically and mentally. The dimension hopping nature of the story provides a context for Grant and Sara to discover what they had, what they’ve lost, and what their relationship could be.
For example, one dimensional journey finds Sara living out her dreams as a stage actor on Broadway, along with the adoration associated to the position. A serendipitous encounter provides a deeper glimpse into this untapped possibility. Despite the praise, the fame, and the success, “Broadway Sara” remains incomplete; She never birthed her children, Pia and Nate. Another dimensional hop found Grant and Sara in a universe that embodies the idea of human connection, a wedding filled with friends and family from all walks of life. The lesson here is evident, but powerful nonetheless, “everyone you know makes a mark, even after they drift away… It’s hard to be aware of how much we learn from them all.” Some of Remender’s best work is on display when looking within the characters that fill his pages.
Remender uses all the tools in his proverbial “writer’s toolbox,” most notably personal narration that taps into the very psyche of each character, providing readers with insight into each scene. The aforementioned “wedding universe” finds Grant and Sara connecting mentally, finishing one another’s thoughts, and joining almost spiritually. Black Science Vol. 8 isn’t as action-packed as it’s predecessor’s, but it takes a break from the set-piece moments to reach a deeper understanding of its characters.
Once again, Matteo Scalera – artist and co-creator of Black Science – renders each page with beautiful delight. His unique style is fully presented, he appears to hold nothing back. The unique aliens and characters of each new world are diverse, almost wonderous in their unique appearance. However, without a doubt, the settings in Black Science are the highlight. Worlds are filled with creature, fauna, and plateaus of mind-tripping exquisiteness. In most cases the art should compliment the writing, in this case, Scalera’s art breathes new life into Remender’s words.