Image Comics is a comic book company founded by creators for creators. It allows writers and artists creative freedom and flexibility, but at the loss of a larger, (possibly) more influential institutions such as DC or Marvel. Over the past several years a lot of amazing properties have taken off (via Image Comics). Not only are their creators reaping the benefits, but they are also aiding in the growth and talent of a great, collective company by gaining more prominence in a difficult industry. For example, “The Walking Dead” is an Image title and has done exceedingly well in various markets including (but not excluding) comic, trade, television, and merchandise. This is a more modern example, but other famous series have spun out of Image as well such as “Spawn,” Witchblade,” “Saga,” and “Haunt”— All of which are incredibly popular and possess larger followings, equating to dollars and attention.
One of the great parts of Image Comics is that besides getting to read and see the talent of fresh faces, audiences get to see some of their favorite artists from the big three (Marvel, DC, and Darkhorse) run with a pet project, which sometimes yields fantastic results that can’t be replicated under the restrictions of their home company.
Rick Remender has been a comic book writer and artist for almost two decades and continues to produce content for Marvel while working on his own projects in his ‘spare’ time. He is well-known for his work with the Punisher, Uncanny X-Force, Venom, and the current run of Captain America. Image Comics has always been a second home for Remender. During his years at Marvel he has been able to produce some amazing work under the Image banner. "Fear Agent" is probably his most prominent Image property, but recently he has released a new series dubbed, “Black Science.”
“Black Science” is nestled behind a stellar cover by artists Matteo Scalera and Dean White, which harkens back to science fiction films of the 1970’s. It strives for modernism by including a white strip down the lefthand-side, thus bringing attention the equally iconic “Black Science” logo mimicking a wave in bold, block lettering. We then see the title’s main character (forefront and center) battling demonic, electric frogs with what appears to be Hypnotoad’s larger, more-imposing cousin in the background.
Once the book is cracked open a great thing happens: A rich and dark world beckons. Readers are introduced to Grant McKay in the first panels courtesy of a realtime conversation with his companion and inner monologue that explains McKay’s personal failings and insecurities from the get-go. Garbed in a space suit reminiscent of the 1940s and 50’s, McKay leads a life of action and intrigue— Scrambling from one scene to the next, McKay’s moments are quick-paced resulting in a quick-read. Grant comes across as a more-macabre version of Hickman’s Reed Richards. He is intelligent (almost cunningly so), however, due to this universe’s physics the rabbit hole that McKay has plunged into seems to blend the laws of science with the fantasies of magic synergizing Black Science. This idea lies at the heart of McKay and company’s planet trotting misadventures, which makes for a wonderful start to hopefully a great and diverse string of parables.
Matteo Scalera’s pencilings and Dean White’s painted art compliments Remender’s narrative excellently. The artwork is vivid. The coloring itself isn’t bright but a wide spectrum of darker tones are used, which match the underpinnnings of the plot while also highlighting the beauty of the science fiction and fantasy elements. The creatures are brought to life with detail and certain panels pay direct homage to classic media of the same genre. There is a scene about halfway through the issue that heavily reminded me of Jaba the Hut’s palace at the beginning of “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi.”
Needless to say, I was impressed. This was not a title that I was specifically seeking out, but after randomly picking it off the shelf and perusing its gorgeously crafted pages and plot I am hooked. If you enjoy “Saga,” “The Fantastic Four,” and/or “East of West” you will enjoy “Black Science.”
I give “Black Science” four-and-half stars out of five. Remember shop local, shop smart. Pick up your copy of “Black Science” from your local comic book retailer, and if you happen to live in Spokane, WA stop by Merlyn’s Sci-fi and Comic Book Shop for all of your comic and gaming needs.