Monday, June 9, 2014

Black Science Volume 1: How to Fall Forever

Written by Rick Remender
Art by Matteo Scalera

     While I've only read bits and pieces of Remender's work, I think his run on Secret Avengers (which I have read) defines him well: lots of big, high-concept stuff going on. He turned the espionage team of Avengers into a team that had to take down an evil empire of robots. And it was wonderful. Black Science takes the path of excitement right off the bat, and doesn't really let up.
     Grant McKay and his team of scientists have successfully made a device called The Pillar, which lets them reach into other dimensions. Food? A cure for cancer? If it's out in some dimension, then they can bring it to our Earth. Unfortunately, it gets sabotaged before they're able to do more testing, and now the team, along with Grant's kids and an executive, are stuck hopping between dimensions filled with stuff trying to kill them.
     And there is a definite fear that things will kill them. It's established in the first issue that anyone can die, and Remender does not let things feel safe, bringing the axe down several more times in this first volume. It could feel cheap, but it works. It leaves you on edge, not knowing when or if someone is going to die, and effectively making every danger feel like it could be a character's end. And this is kept up with a generally frenetic pace. There is always something going on, and even the one breather spot is just a gasp of air before it kicks right back into action.
     If that wasn't enough, there's always the ticking timer until The Pillar warps again. It's similar to Sliders in a way, except instead of alternate Earths, there's worlds of frog men and wars involving technologically advanced Native Americans. Scalera's art brings it all to life, with plenty of big panels to give the full view of the environment. And while the effort to fix The Pillar is there, and get back to their Earth, you obviously don't really want them to. When each dimension is something new and exciting, you just want to see what else Remender and Scalera have cooked up. The one problem being that between the focus on the worlds and the anyone can die attitude, character development is a bit light and sometimes feels pointless. But then, a lot is also said just by how the characters react to each new situation they're thrown into.

     How to Fall Forever is a solid first volume that has plenty to keep you reading. Even if the overall story is clearly developing, you want to get on now just to see where things go.

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