Hello, hi, hey and welcome to the hundredth edition of Pulp! This milestone snuck up on me, to be honest – I only realised that this was the hundredth column I’ve written for Forte as I actually went to write it. I can only blame uni for this one – I’m neck deep in exam study at the moment, and to be perfectly honest, there isn’t much else capturing my attention besides the intricacies of encryption and project management. It’s a glamorous life. Without any further ado, let’s dive into the murky waters of this week’s comic: Black Science, written by industry veteran Rick Remender (Low, Uncanny X-Force and a butt-tonne of other Marvel titles).
Grant McKay has seemingly done the impossible; he’s deciphered Black Science, and punched a hole in reality. His creation, the Pillar, can transport people across time, space and dimensions – every possible reality is his to explore. Every alien world, every alternate timeline, every civilisation is at his fingertips. The problem? Grant and his team are jumping randomly through dimensions – courtesy of a saboteur – and the vast majority of those dimensions want them all dead. With his kids, his colleagues and his lover relying on him, Grant needs to fix the Pillar’s navigation system and find a way home.
Black Science pretty much lives and breathes weirdness. With all the jumping between dimensions, the environments the team finds themselves in are completely, totally and utterly alien, and it’s bloody fantastic. The book exudes that old-school sci-fi feeling; it’s like Buck Rogers meets a dark-n-gritty Star Trek on an acid trip. It’s less of a journey home and more of a struggle to even make it to the next, randomly-timed jump – the team could be stuck in a new, horrific dimension for hours, minutes or even days. It’s not like the team is exactly unified, either.
With Grant having spent his time alternating between working on the Pillar and cheating on his wife with one of his team members, his kids trapped with him and his utterly unlikable boss and his sycophantic assistant along for the ride as well, Grant’s feeling the heat. And it makes for palpable tension. What was initially a difficult task has become nearly impossible; without proper facilities, parts and time, the team is doomed to wander the dimensions forever – great for us readers, but not so much for the characters.
Remender and artist Matteo Scalera (Secret Avengers, Incorruptible) make for a fantastic team. Scalera does a lot of the heavy lifting in bringing the alternate dimensions to life – whether it’s a German army taking on tech-heavy American Indians, or a bunch of ghost-possessed monkeys (yes, that’s a thing), the sense of depth and pure weirdness he puts on the page is a big part of the appeal. Remender’s concepts are bizarre, intriguing and make for one hell of a story. While I talk about sci-fi a lot – obviously, it’s a big interest of mine – Remender has a habit of writing stories that have really interesting, slightly-off-kilter settings that make his stories all the more interesting.
That said, I don’t think Black Science will appeal to the exclusively capes-n-cowls crowd – it’s definitely one of those niche, kinda artistic books that really thrives at publishers like Image. Black Science is a love letter to sci-fi and its fans, and if that sounds like your thing I highly recommend picking it up. ‘Til next time, folks!