Impressions of Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera and Dean White’s Black Science #4

(Spoiler Alert: Some people live, one person dies, a shaman does some magic)

In this issue of Black Science, we find three from the team of the League of Anarchist Scientists on the way back to the Pillar after kidnapping a technologically advanced shaman with the hopes of healing the mortally wounded Grant, the story’s protagonist. Now because I know that the tropes of serialized storytelling show that the protagonist doesn’t often die in the early stages of a series, I had little doubt that Grant would be in ship shape by the end of the issue (otherwise, what would’ve been the point of building up his character up until now). However, I also recognized that these types of stories also involve paying a life with a life, and Black Science doesn’t fail to live up to this trope either. Ultimately what’s most distressing is that it occurs in a manner to the character that seems inevitable, not at all surprising given the brief background we were given on the character in the previous issue. Additionally, Remender also uses the moment to head into another cliché, the cowardly businessmen who abandons his fellow man to save his own skin.

My hope at the moment is that Remender subverts our expectation of this character and the rest of the cast, which I feel like he will need to do very soon because most of the characters are already falling into archetypes only for issues in. So far there’s the sexy, but genius assistant, the roguish and morally ambiguous leader, the apathetic teen, the quiet younger child (who’ll most likely perform some surprising action when we least most expect it) and the overly optimistic intern. Based on Remender’s reputation, I believe that he’s trying to get us to feel as if we know these characters, getting us comfortable with the characteristics of themselves we’ve recognized in other stories of this genre before the trauma of the voyage between dimensions begins to erode their facades and reconstruct their personalities.

Although the script gives me some pause, Scalera and White’s work on the visuals continue to impress me. Scalera is able to pull off some great choreography during action-oriented scenes while maintaining a clear sense of what is occurring. In one gruesome scene, Scalera uses a few wide panels that give a great sense of scope and quick pacing before slowing us down completely with a wicked decapitation. I’m also very impressed by Scalera and Remender’s ability to come up with ideas for visually distinct worlds as the character continue leaping through dimensions. Colorist Dean White’s work should get a lot of the credit for this as he’s able to maintain an aesthetic throughout the book while providing each world a palette of its own. The last page of the book signals that the traveling may stop for a while, but if the League’s current world is as strangely wonderful as the previous two, I don’t mind the extended stay.

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