Rick Remender’s new 1930s inspired pulp series Black Science from Image Comics mixes old school science fiction with gritty 21st century story-telling – not to mention a planet full of frog people. So what makes Black Science #1 so much better than all those other pulp wannabes on the market?
On an alien world, two figures in spacesuits are on the run from fish people riding giant eels. Against a backdrop of extra-terrestrial lightening they stumble upon series of temples built on the back of giant turtles. A handful of pages in and this new creator owned book from Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera and Dean White has us hooked.
Starting off at a run, we quickly realise our protagonist, Grant McKay is a conflicted and flawed man. A member of the Anarchist League of Science he has a deep, political drive that gets him into trouble. He has delved into the mysteries of Black Science and is about to pay the cost. But while his ambition may have endangered his family, he has a heroic side that leaves him unable to not help people in need
Scalera and White continue with a magnificent job on the art. This alien world almost glistens on the page, and while the art can be dark and foreboding it’s always in service of clear storytelling. The panels pop from thick black borders on white pages and Scalera does great work zooming in and out to show the action from different perspectives.
Character design is excellent. With multiple alien races and strange landscapes to delight the eye, I found myself tempted to skip the text altogether. That would have been a mistake as Remender brings the heat with his script.
He uses an interesting hard-boiled narration for Grant McKay. As he hurtles his way through the dangers of this alien dimension he keeps up an internal narrative that fills us in on how they got there. When the action heats up he comments on the actual story events but otherwise it’s back-story and commentary.
“An ambitious book on multiple levels. An intriguing world with a flawed hero, magnificent art and, of course, lots of frog people! Remender’s pulp adventure has a gritty modern core to it that isn’t afraid to take risks with it’s story which really helps elevate it above the average.”