By: Rick Remenber (writer), Matteo Scalera (art), Dean White (painted art) and Rus Wooton (letters)
The Story: Grant has to deal with a mysterious, masked assailant.
Review (with SPOILERS): Last issue of this series put it right back on the top of my reading stack. It was fast and furious and ended in a really cool place with a nifty-looking villain (?) appearing to possibly menace Grant McKay and our heroes.
This issue wastes no time dragging out the mystery of this masked man, it’s Other Grant. It would be wrong to think of him as Future Grant who is on a sort of Back to the Future mission to help out. No, this is just Other Grant from another reality who somehow has knowledge about the normal sequence of events that takes place in alternate universes. Except in Other Grant’s native reality, his Pillar exploded and killed his children and now he seems to be on a mission to stop Our Grant from killing his kids.
Once we learned that Black Science was about reality hopping, it was probably inevitable that we would see another Grant. This also means that lots of other characters are likely to appear. There are other realities where that lady who died in issue #1 doesn’t die. There are realities where Grant’s wife comes along on the Pillar. And there are certainly realities where the soldier/protector dude from last issue is still alive and kicking. That’s neat. If you’ve ever thought about alternate universes, it’s natural to wonder you are living in a “good” universe or a “bad” universe and it would be so enticing to get a glimpse into these other universes to see what would have happened if you’d made different choices in your like (kinda like a Choose Your Own Adventure book).
Of course, this also opens up a huge matter of TRUST. The Other Grant makes a statement that the various Grant McKay’s from different universes always get the children killed. Hmm… That’s not the way alternate universes work. There is nothing that “always” happens: Everything can and does happen. It could be that Remender is just playing around with the idea of alternate universes for dramatic effect. Or maybe this Other Grant isn’t trustworthy? And maybe Kadir isn’t “always the saboteur” either.
Another theme I liked a lot in this issue was the idea of clinging to The Pillar like a life raft in the ocean. In previous issues, we’ve always seen a reason to want the Pillar to jump, because the protagonists were always somewhere pretty dreadful and dangerous. Now, they’re somewhere pretty nice and some people want to stay. It reminds me of that old game show called Let’s Make a Deal where you would be given one prize and then had to decide whether you wanted to keep the reasonably good prize (e.g. snow skiing equipment) you had OR take whatever was behind door #2. Sometimes it was a great prize like a BRAND NEW CAR; sometimes it was a box of Cheerios. That’s kinda what Out Grant faces. This reality is pretty good. It isn’t home, but nobody is trying to kill them. The next reality probably may not be so nice. Interesting dilema.
I’m also intrigued that the appearance of Other Grant implies that that the two crazy worlds we’ve seen so far (that weird aquatic, frogman world and the techno-Native Americans) are both alternate Earths. It’s just an interesting idea to think that all this reality hopping isn’t really taking them away from Earth and it makes me think of how people always say that to build a time machine, you also have to build a teleportation device because the Earth is orbiting the sun, which is orbiting the galaxy, which is moving around the universe. I wonder if Remender will at least acknowledge some of this stuff? I hope so.
A final thing before we move onto the art is that I enjoy how Remender is keeping the pacing of the book snappy. It would be really easy to milk any of these scenarios for an entire 5-issue story arc, but Rememder doesn’t seem to be interested in doing that. Chances are, he has plenty of ideas he wants to tell in his career and has no reason to milk Black Science for any longer than is necessary. I like that in a storyteller.
The art is wonderful again. I think Scalera is a little better when he is drawing the fantastical and energetic, and while he gets some chances to do that in this issue, it isn’t quite at the level of his techno-Native Americans last issue. He still does some; like that weird organic bird/motorcycle that Our Grant steals, but just not as much. It’s just a limitation of the story in this issue that called for a lot of talking heads. There’s nothing wrong with Scalera’s talking heads, but having him draw that stuff is a little like owning a Porsche 911 and never reving the engine above 3000 rpms. I think I’d rather keep Scalera at the redline until the audience complains about TOO MUCH of that awesome action-y stuff.
Conclusion: A strong issue that advances the plot quite a bit. Not as much fantastic action as other issues, but I guess we can’t always eat ice cream.