I haven’t done a review in a long time. Years. So forgive me if I’m rusty.
Since I’m not what I’d consider an old hat at this, I thought I’d ease in with something semi-recent but also semi-not.
Ready? Let’s go.
Black Science #1, from Image. We’ve got Rick Remender as the writer, Matteo Scalera and Dean White on art, Rus Wooten on letters. And, we have Sebastian Girner as the editor. (I know, not many people talk about the editor. I’m going to change that.)
I’m also going to judge the books based on Prince song titles. (I love Prince.)
When Doves Cry is a bad book.
Adore is a good book.
Beautiful Strange is a maybe book.
So, we all set? We know the players, we have the playlist, so, let’s see what we have.
Basically, it’s a sci-fi romp about a guy who’s delved into “forbidden” science and gotten into trouble for it. Simple setup. Exploring forbidden science is bad and will lead to trouble every time.
This is a good read, up to a point. Most of the story is told in first-person captions, with the occasional bit of actual spoken dialogue thrown in for variety. I was disappointed in that. At first, it was a little novel, but then it was simply too much. Too much exposition, but not enough real speaking. Basically, the main character spends the issue on self-recriminations. We get some story through that, and a lot of characterization, but it can also be a boring read.
This first issue does two things, one merging into the other. The first thing is that it’s a chase scene, and then that chase scene delves right into a race against time. The chase scene works because it’s showcasing Remender’s imagination (and a statement on mythology—islands riding on turtles! Genius!), but then the race against time doesn’t work because after the chase, there’s only five minutes left for the main character to make it to their destination—and they have a long way to go, still.
Obstacles: well, he’s being chased. He and his wife, actually. Chased on an alien world, where fish-people ride slug-like things with teeth. He escapes, but he has to make it through the frog-people in five minutes before things start blowing up/he can’t get back to his world.
The frog people have electric tongues. That’s interesting. But then it kinda jumps the rails for me, and I stopped being interested. The main character kills one of the frog people, and pulls its head off. Then, he sticks his hand inside the neck of the frogger and starts whipping the electric tongue around, getting through the obstacle.
I have a problem with that. If the frog-man is dead, how is it the process of the electric tongue is still occurring? That’s something the editor should have caught, and if they caught it and Rick managed to explain it away, that explanation should have found its way into the script.
The editor’s job is to make sure things work. The idea works, but the execution falls very short.
I have absolutely nothing but glowing remarks for the art team here. I don’t know who did what, but it looks absolutely phenomenal. I love it.
The letterer did their job, too. I was able to just sink down into the book and not notice the lettering—and as an editor myself, I was trying. The best lettering doesn’t call attention to itself, and if it does, it doesn’t do so in a gaudy way. I’ve got nothing but love for Wooten.
My official recommendation for this is simple: Beautiful Strange. The art is extremely strong, the ideas are very strong, but there’s just a stumble when it comes to some of the execution. I could take it or leave it.