Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Black Science

It's strange, but for how much I love comic books and think they're an important storytelling medium on their own merit, I sure haven't talked much about comics that weren't pretty darn terrible.  This is a shame, because people I know (and worth with) will know I keep digging comics out of my bookshelf and throwing them at people to get them to read them.

So, on that note, anybody else fondly remember the TV show Sliders?  I'm not joking when I say it was my favorite thing in the world when it was on the air, and I used to dream about the ability to visit alternate worlds and see amazing things with the help of a remote control.

Having now read Black Science, I think I'll wait for someone else to map out the good parts first.

I've only read the first two volumes of Black Science, so if everything I say is now wrong thanks to new stories, then please, don't tell me until I have a chance to read the story myself and swear at myself for not waiting long enough.

Written by prolific comic book writer Rick Remender and illustrated by Matteo Scalera, Black Science is proof there's great stories that can be told if people can just stop only focusing on characters like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and all the other brightly-costumed superheroes that fill every single shelf of comic book stores across the country.

Don't get me wrong, I love stories about all those characters, but it would be like if Hollywood just gave up on outer space and fantasy worlds and just made all blockbuster movies into "superhero movies."  Which, yes, it can feel like sometimes, but there's still hope.

Former member of the Anarchistic Order Of Scientists (great name, right?) member Grant McKay manages to invent the Pillar, a devices that punches through dimensions and allows its users to explore alternate worlds.  Grant intends on this being the greatest boon in history to mankind, allowing us to claim unlimited resources (food, medicine, technology) from unlimited sources.

However, someone on his team sabotaged the Pillar, causing Grant, his two kids, and the rest of his team to be stranded, bouncing aimlessly from world to world as the pillar seems to randomly decide what world they visit and how long they're going to stay there.  It doesn't take long before members of the team start being picked off, and it becomes a guessing game to see whether the secrets the team keeps from each other are going to do them in or if the strange alien landscapes will first.

The art is rough but clear, you get strong sense that this isn't a clean adventure like you'd get from Sliders or Star Trek.  Things are gritty, people get hurt, and the characters frequently find themselves fighting strange creatures to the death to protect themselves and prevent the loss of the Pillar.  An interesting idea is that there appears to be some variation of Grant in most worlds, and some worlds are already well acquainted with the use of a Pillar of some kind.

The characters are engaging, as nobody's depicted as being a simple "villain."  There are people in the story who do very bad things, but when they present their motivations, you can't really help but argue that the goal might have been noble, but the means were anything but.  Something I always enjoy is a complex character, someone who I might realize is doing something wrong, but I can't bring myself to dislike them because of it.

With elaborate twists through each story that keep you wanting to find out what happens next to this group of people, engaging characters, and dazzling visuals (I thought the aliens in Avatar were interesting, but now I've seen a giant sloth bear with a snail shell), Black Science is an extremely well-crafted book that's a lot of fun to read.

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