Grant McKay races through a hostile alien environment. He is frantically trying to get to his team of scientists to deliver fresh water so the transporter they have constructed to take them home won’t overheat and kill everyone in the party, including McKay’s children. He has ten minutes to reach them but the inhabitants of this world have other plans for McKay.
McKay’s mad dash through another world takes place in the pages of “Black Science” #1 from writer Rick Remender (“Fear Agent,” “Uncanny Avengers”), artist Matteo Scalera (“Indestructible Hulk,” “Secret Avengers”), and colorist Dean White (“Captain America,” “Uncanny X-Force”). This is the debut issue of a new series from Image Comics.
“Black Science” #1 provides a look at an alien world where the civilizations are built on the backs of enormous tortoises floating through a swamp. McKay narrates his story apologizing for his mistakes, including experimenting with black science; he is trying to come to terms with his self doubts and regrets. He must overcome his failures to save the lives of his children and escape from fish men and frog men, both of which have no understanding of who this invader is.
Remender creates great suspense in the story with the desperate pace of McKay’s sprint taking him from one confrontation to the next. A dive through a window to escape one horrific alien only leads him to the feet of the next. But through it all we learn who McKay is, not just a man measuring himself by his failures, but the character of this man and how far he’ll go to do what is right.
The art in the book is a visual feast. From the odd designs of Mayan-like temples on the backs of giant tortoises to the underwater caverns complete with giant frog totem that build the epic reality that Scalera is playing with to bring a sense of sci-fi fantasy to the narrative.
It is the indigenous life of this world that shows much imagination. The tribes of frog people and fish people are disturbing in their ferocity. Frog’s with electric tongues used as whips that will snap your head off in the blink of an eye. Fish men who fight in a more barbaric style with swords, spears and slings as they ride along on beasts of burden providing a troubling barrier to McKay’s escape are as menacing as anything.
White’s colors bring it all together setting an ominous tone. The skies are constantly storming with ever present crackling of lightning but it is the flash of the deep pink bolts that illuminate the dark clouds and reflects off the water below. It is a stunning work of nature on this world that belies the treacherous surroundings. Every splash of color conveys something new about the world making Scalera’s artwork pop that much more. White’s palette enhances the foreign look to the book with strange glows adding to the unnatural feel of the terrain.
“Black Science” #1 is a story where the main character has his own failures to overcome but as he faces them he never gives up on himself. Grant McKay’s plight only builds the feeling of intensity that this stunning fantasy world delivers. The first issue reads well as a story on its own but as the series progresses it opens many more doors to new worlds that will need to be explored.
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