This week, on new comic book day, I read fourteen books in one sitting. It was like eating Thanksgiving dinner. As I undid my belt and reveled in my fullness, I braced for that battle. All those decadent little morsels of sequential storytelling standing around the edges of my mind, cracking their knuckles, ready for the royal rumble that would decide which one I would stay up late into the night writing about.
But there was no rumble. Even in a week that was so lousy with excellence, there was nothing that could stand against Black Science #7.
Black Science is a book about the unexpected. It is the tale of a team of scientists terminally linked to a device that randomly fires them between dimensions. Each world they land in is a bastion of unchecked imagination. Taking the reader to fresh, new, Technicolor sci-fi worlds; each world wholly novel and exciting.
Issue #7 sees the science team teleported to a medieval world ruled by a race of eyeless, dagger mouthed creatures. The team is captured by the creatures and it looks as if they are to be consumed in some religious, ritual feast. The majority of the issue’s story takes place after the team escapes and flees from their captors on horseback…scratch that…on alien-horse-like-fish-creature back.
The scene is absolutely thrilling and is laid out so smoothly it is almost like the panels are in motion. In what might be the best example yet of writer Rick Remender’s endless spinning maw of an imagination, the chase ends with a battle against a giant flying hippo dragon that spews tsunamis instead of fire.
There is a fearlessness that is sutured into Remender’s story telling, and it goes beyond the super creative sci-fi worlds and monsters. The narrative is constantly going in shocking directions. Issue #6 was an end arch issue that held one of the best twists of the year and setting up the story to go in an interesting new direction.
Now, just one issue later, Remender again blows things up with another twist, taking everything you thought you knew about where the story was going and tossing it.
The amazing thing is none of these surprise turns ever seem cheap. Everything has a feeling of being planned and paced. It is almost like Rick Remender has this Beautiful Mind-esque room where the walls are covered in interconnected plot points that weave into the tangled infinitum of limitless worlds.
Black Science as a series is a love letter to comic books. It gives the unapologetic weirdness that is synonymous with the medium a hug, and whispers I love you in its ear. It shows you great character work, sharp dialog, and an unexpected plot can share the page with cyborg Native American Indians and a civilization of ghost yetis. A capsule of the spirit of comic books, it is a requirement for every pull list.