Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Rick Remender
Artwork: Matteo Scalera
Colours: Moreno Dinisio
Lettering: Rus Wooton
Release Date: 30th October 2020 (available now via ComiXology – CLICK HERE)
In a lot of ways, consistency actually can end up working against certain comics. While books that occasionally flourish with spectacular issues can grab the attention of readers and critics alike, a series that consistently and unwaveringly churns out high-level storytelling can sometimes, inexplicably, end up flying under the radar. And that’s what I think has perhaps happened with Black Science – for me, at least – over the past six years.
For those new to the party, Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s Black Science tells the story of scientist Grant McKay, his team and his family as they find themselves being flung through various realities while trying to repair his dimensional device, “the Pillar”. Packed with intrigue, slow-burning character development, shocking twists and turns and some of the best artwork you’re going to get in a monthly periodical, this series has been right at the top of my pull list since it first exploded onto the scene back in late 2013.
As we move into this, the final volume, the multiversal ‘safety net’ has been well and truly removed. No more branching realities are being caused by any decisions made, and as such, the free-wheeling energy of the series is slowed right down to a tense, dramatic crawl with every choice becoming quite literally life or death. It’s a fascinating change of pace, with the witch Doxta poised to end all life once and for all and the newly reunited Anarchist League of Scientists prepare to make their final stand. For all intents and purposes, it feels like this final arc is going to deliver nothing less than an epic, all-out skirmish with the fate of literally everything at stake.
And then… it doesn’t.
I’m not going to delve into anything approaching spoiler territory, because this is most definitely a series that deserves to be experienced first-hand, but suffice to say that in wrapping up six years of story, Remender and Scalera provide us with a finale packed with energy, emotion, futility and hope. And while I’d stop short of calling it a “happy ending” as such, it’s probably about as close as we were ever going to get from a series like this.
With the focus essentially narrowed down to our primary protagonist and antagonist, Remender and Scalera employ a clever branching storyline method where two alternate versions of one key decision play out simultaneously. Previous events are referenced, added emphasis is placed on certain developments, and the whole thing loops around on itself in one glorious final swoop, leading to a final double-page splash that is every bit as resonant as it is cryptic.
Scalera’s artwork has carried every bit as much of the load as Remender’s sprawling narrative over the last six years, and the Italian artist is given ample opportunity to flex his muscle over the course of these final five issues, managing to blend action, emotion and cinematic framing in a way that almost feels effortless at times
For me though, the real unsung hero of Black Science is colourist Moreno Dinisio, who brings Scalera’s pencils and inks to the page with a real flair. Whether it’s sizzling laser blasts, roaring flames or just the way the light plays on a character’s face during a key emotional beat, Dinisio works seamlessly alongside Scalera to deliver the striking visual aesthetic of this series.
Managing to be both heartbreakingly intimate and incomprehensibly epic in scope, Black Science has set an almost impossibly high benchmark for comic book sci-fi, and in this final volume, its creators do about as impressive a job of sticking the landing as any loyal fan could hope for. If you haven’t experienced this series now, then I strongly recommend picking up all nine volumes as quickly as possible, strapping yourself in and preparing for a journey you’ll never forget. Pure comic book perfection, and a series that gets my highest possible recommendation.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]