A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Unity #1 from Valiant. In the comments section of the review I clarified one of my problems with the book thusly;
I have a basic familiarity with the Valiant characters and I still felt the book was lacking in character motivation. And not in that "everything is moving so fast I can barely keep up and this is awesome!" way, but in a "why is anyone doing what they're doing, I'm bored and no longer care" way.
Black Science #1 does not have this problem.
Written by Rick Remender, with art and colors by Matteo Scalera and Dean White respectively, Black Science starts off running and only gets more frenetic as the issue continues. It’s the story of self-taught outlaw scientist Grant McKay, who has cracked the code of inter-dimensional travel. The issue follows McKay as he and a colleague desperately try to get coolant for the travel “pillar” before it overheats and kills everyone in the crazy-ass dimension they’re currently stuck in. That’s the set-up for a frantic, 29 page foot chase involving a blue frog people ruling class, their fish people enemies and a fish lady stripper/concubine.
Also the whole issue takes place on the back of a giant swimming nation-turtle.
This thing is nuts is what I’m saying. But nuts in the best possible way. Remender holds the crazy together via internal monologue caption boxes from McKay, and while I was a little fuzzy on the interpersonal relationships I grasped the crux of the situation the characters were in. Crazy aliens speaking gibberish felt a little like his Captain America relaunch but the tone is vastly different here, where Cap is a super soldier tactical genius this guy seems in over his head from the start. I don’t want to say much more about the plot but things go to shit pretty quickly and only get worse from there.
Scalera and White put on a real show here. There are images in this issue that would fit well on the cover of an old sci-fi paperback or the side of a particularly sweet van. Scalera’s done a ton of great design work; alien species, space suits, all manner of terrain. He’s also managed to put real emotion on the faces of large blue space-frogs. White uses bright, energetic colors to great effect, lots of vivid reds, blues and purples. The world crackles with light and dynamism on every page.
While Black Science’s basic premise of people discovering alternate universes may not be particularly original, it is executed so well that I don't care. Great pacing, fantastic visuals and internal dialogue that avoids reading like a constant exposition dump propel the reader through the book as fast as Grant McKay is running. By the end of the issue you'll feel like you’ve barely caught up.