As the Piller continues to systematically jump from one dimension to the next, Grant McKay’s motley crew — minus a few members, himself included — find themselves as part of a ritual sacrifice. However, in order to fulfill McKay’s dying wish, Kadir must rush in to save the children’s lives with only his wits, a laser gun, and an electric hatchet to defend them all. Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s “Black Science” #7 continues the series’ wacky, twisted interdimensional adventure with plenty of action and fantastical designs, although Kadir’s turnaround and subsequent call to action feel abrupt.
As many great authors do, Remender kicks off the second arc in medias res. He leaves us with no indication of how much time has passed or how the crew found themselves in their unique predicament; though this doesn’t hurt the issue in any way in and of itself (in fact, it certainly makes the story fast and fun), the lack of bridge between the gut-wrenching conclusion of the last arc and the start of this one poses a lot of emotionally heavy questions that it fails to answer or even hint at before delving right into the action. What’s more, Kadir’s change of heart and sudden battle expertise come right out of left field. In the story so far, Kadir has bumbled his way through his dimension, appearing both clumsy and generally inexperienced. Where Kadir’s narration is poignant and justifies his new role in the group, his ability to fight off this dimension’s inhabitants simply doesn’t follow what we’ve seen of him so far.
Aside from that, Kadir’s backstory — juxtaposed with several selfless feats — add more gravitas to the character and his new position. In the first arc, Kadir fits every stereotype of the greedy, jealous, self-obsessed business man; here, however, Remender fleshes him out into a three-dimensional character, making him sympathetic despite his obvious flaws. A few new, useful devices come into play here, including the Shaman’s translator, which ups the potential for the exploration of these other dimensions. Overall, the story is a nice ride, if not particularly groundbreaking.
Scalera simply excels at character design, rising up to Remender’s challenges nicely. His blend of the familiar — a feudal estate, a “horse”-drawn cart — with the bizarre — miniature, reptilian creatures with no eyes — ground the dimension in something familiar while exploring the absurd. Likewise, his figures read as cartoonish with pointed faces, loose movement, elastic limbs in a way that allows them to slip between both descriptions, and thereby occupy each space organically. However, their facial expressions occasionally come across as stiff or don’t sync up with the dialogue they’re given, as with Pia just before the sacrifice and Rebecca’s lack of surprise. He does, on the other hand, pull off a fantastic shot with the enemy riding right towards the reader as Kadir and the Shaman flee. Dean White swoops in with a wonderful paint-like texture that gives the book a real pulp feel, weaving wonderful backdrops with paint sploshes and vivid, Technicolor swirls. Between Scalera and White, the book revels in the sci-fi pulp that inspired them with an almost “Lost in Space” kind of atmosphere.
As the first issue in this arc, “Black Science” #7 has room yet to grow and tackle some of the emotional loose threads it left at the close of the last story, even if it does not do so here. With Kadir’s strong narration and a lot of fast-paced action, Remender and Scalera give us some strong — if not quite perfect — character development that makes for a good, solid read.