Despite its fantastic visuals, the story of Black Science felt rushed and the narration oppressive.
Black Science #1 never takes a breath; it is a sprint to the finish line. Grant Mckay, a former member of a group known as The Anarchist Order of Scientists has delved into 'black science' and now he is paying for it. With a sprint? Well kind of actually. You see he has landed himself and his family on a strange world full of frog people and fish ladies and if he doesn't get back to them-- they will all die.
It is all very urgent. The scientist, who I am also convinced is Rambo, hurls himself through lavish environments and set-pieces that are both beautiful and alien. The colours evoke that old science fiction feel that was somewhat lost with the advent of CGI and maybe even Star Wars, as much as I love it. It looks distinct and alive with some sweeping shots of scenery that appear to go on for miles, but with some familiar architecture hinting at civilizations similar to some of our own. It achieves a sense of life that no amount of text could have conveyed as elegantly.
The narrator, Mckay himself, seemed to be completely uninterested though. Admittedly, they are running for their lives and the stakes are high, but it was a sign of a bigger problem. The narration is the main bulk of story-- Mckay laments his life; revealing parts of his back-story and his family's, but little consideration is made to the now. He talks about how he was an individualist and how he made nothing but bad choices, but the world we are given in the first issue is that choice.
It's hard to enjoy a story when the voice guiding me has nothing but disdain for what is happening. A world I could be interested in is turned into a dystopian nightmare reflecting a man who could not be more unhappy. A lot of this could have been avoided too. If the story relied a little less on the narration and allowed a moment to exist free of it, the bias could be lifted somewhat. Then, I could have enjoyed the story of the world-- as well as the character's own journey. The fact that stuff is bad, is all you get from that narration.
Visuals are the strength here. Each panel embellishes the story with more detail than I felt the narrative contained. Where the story insisted on rushing from one place to the other, the colours and the art hint at something more, both interesting and living. The desperate trudging through the various environments, the living poses of the various creatures being more than wacky creatures. It made, what was essentially, a race involving the world's hardest scientist an experience. A tiring, struggle rather than a tired action barrage.
Unfortunately though, it ended up feeling as if I was having a shiny object waved in front of me, but as I went to reach for it is was pulled further out of reach and replaced with that familiar generic spiel about science as evil and individuals as bad. I'm not necessarily saying Remender himself is saying those things, but they aren't exactly sentiments I enjoy reading about, especially from the character whose perspective I'm following.
I really wanted to like this book, I want to like every book I read. It would save me some time, but even a book I don't enjoy teaches lessons. I think there is something here that I could enjoy. I am very fond of science fiction and the idea of that old imaginative era, probably romanticised in my head, is even more appealing. The cliff-hanger ending suggested a potential avenue for more interesting stories. I think more characters, hopefully forcing scenes to last a while longer to soak in, and adding a few more voices to the mix. And the narration needs to take some time out, or at least be used a little more reservedly.
This issue felt more akin to a modern-action shooter; jumping from set-piece to set-piece in an attempt to outdo what had happened previously, rather than a classic science fiction. I think if a balance is found between the action and the intrigue of new worlds this could be a good book, but judging from the last page, the next issue is going to be about as loud and dire in tone as the first.