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Black Science #3 – Review

By: Rick Remender (writer), Matteo Scalera (art), Dean White (colors) and Rus Wooton (letters)

The Story: More background on the Pilar project.

Review (with SPOILERS): This issue is a perfect example of why I hate to see fans proclaiming a series as “great” after an exciting first issue.  So much can go wrong or change in the space of a few issues, that you really need to see a little more before registering a definite opinion on a series.

Where this issue goes wrong is in how far away from the original premise it has gotten after only a few issues.  That first issue was just electric.  We were dumped into the middle of this bizarre aquatic planet with frogmen and fishmen doing battle and some astronaut dude was running for his life.  Nothing was explained and we mostly had to figure it out ourselves.  Then – JUMP – we ended up on some weird future-tech planet at the end of the issue.  It almost seemed like this series could just be folks hopping around and trying to get home: cool world after cool world.  It felt really fast-paced and – screw the back-story – because those frogmen with the electric tongues were SO COOL.  Oh yeah…..and the art was incredible.

The second issue was a deviation from the first in that we started getting more backstory on the characters and less of the fantastical world they were exploring.  That wasn’t good.  And lots of the characters we really stereotypy.

This issue continues to steer us further away from that wonderful land of of cities being built on the back of gigantic tortoises.  We get almost nothing about the indigenous people on this world.  I mean, we’ve got future-tech Native Americans invading a WWI-era western Europe: That is cool and that should be explored.  Let’s learn more.  Instead we get more (i) romantic drama with Grant McKay and the unlikely hot chick who works in his lab and (ii) Kadir, Stereotypical Venture Capitalist.  And then there is some unnecessary exposition on the nature of multiple universes; unnecessary because 99.9% of comic fans have seen Star Trek and Quantum Leap and Fringe and Other Science Fiction that has taught them about alternate universes.  No exposition needed.

I think part of the problem is that Remender just isn’t my favorite writer.  He lacks that sharp edge on his stories that I love.  When Scott Snyder or Jason Aaron or Jonathan Hickman are fashioning a story into a literary sharp stick, you know that they are going to carry right on and poke you in the guts and eyes with that stick.  Even Bendis will do it with his non-Marvel work.  Remender usually won’t actually poke you with the sharp stick.  There’s usually a literary nervous chuckle from the story and some joke to diffuse the tension and then we carry on.  Lots of people love it that way, but it’s not my favorite.  Remender CAN do a story with sharp edges, but it’s been awhile since Last Days of American Crime came out.  I might just be hoping this story will be something it isn’t destined to be.

Even the art takes a step backwards in this issue.  It is still a very rich issue to look at because I LOVE the coloring.  It’s one of those issues that makes me wish I understood color theory because I’d like to understand why THIS is so appealing to my eyes.  Obviously there is something very unique going on with the colors…..and it can’t be anything you learn in a textbook either or else every graduate from art school could color comics this way….and they cannot.  But, the line-art???  I think the problem is that most of the dynamic action in this issue happens with these big mechs and mechs just aren’t dynamic.  It’s really hard to draw a mech and give it a sense of power and speed.  Mechs are hard because they don’t have hair that can whip around or muscles under the skin: Nothing to indicate the direction of a movement.  Now, a lot of the art in the parts of the comic that I didn’t like are still pretty good.  McKay’s lab assistant looks suitably attractive and the kids looks appropriately like kids.  I just wish these characters were given more interesting things to do.

Conclusion: This series is off the road and stuck in the ditch.  Why you would create a comic series about a crew that hops between realities and then spend more time on the love-lives of the characters and pre-adventure back-story is beyond me.  Still salvageable because the art is strong and the basic ingredients are in place, but I think the Remender is just interested in different things than I am.

Grade: B-

-Dean Stell

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3 Responses

  1. I don’t entirely agree, but then I am a fan of Rick Remender. I concur that the adventure should get back on track, with exploration and plenty of big concepts and ideas, but I don’t think the explanation about why they are doing it and how should be skipped or anything. It’s a necessity, even if it ends up being a bit like other serials from other medias.

    As for the love life, that I agree with you though. It seems like it could be the start of something twisted in the future, but to slow things down with this makes the story a bit slower than it should. The world they are in looks fascinating, yet I’m not sure if we should expect explanations and analysis of every worlds they will land into.

    I’m still hopeful, but I don’t think the first issue was an actual indicative of how the first arc will end up being. Mayhaps the second one will focus more on action and sci-fi once the characters and problems are settled and explained further.

    • I guess what I’m reacting to is that I’m seeing more weak tea being shoveled my way and I didn’t recognize it for a few issues because it is covered in really nice artwork. I’m not saying that I want to the “team” hang out on these planets and adventure, but just run around and do stuff. Let us look out the car window as they drive past. Just don’t make me spend a few pages watching Kadir back on Earth being a sinister venture capitalist. Nobody wants to read about that.

      • I know, if you want to show character, show us character in the dynamic environments, not in boring flashback scenes that don’t tell us anything we couldn’t have guessed already. Makes me think of Japanese kaiju monster movies. They were always filled with lots of tedious comedy and intrigue in between the monster wrasslin’ because the producers did not have the budget to fill a full hour and a half with special effects. The magic of comics is that there is no such limitation. Have quiet moments and elucidate character, sure, but do it in interesting places with interesting discussions in lulls between the action – don’t bore us with repetitive wasted time watching Grant get stoned with his lover.

        I don’t think the art was less good, so much as that there was much less of interest to draw.

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