Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s creator-owned “Black Science” chronicles the inter-dimensional exploits of Grant McKay and his family of dimensionauts" as they use the Pillar, a device McKay created, to traverse the multiple realities of the Eververse. You don’t break down barriers between dimensions without paying a steep price, however, and over the course of the Image Comics series, McKay has paid dearly for his actions. The bonds between him and his ex-wife Sara are shattered, his son Nate is lost in an unknown reality, and he sacrificed his intellect and knowledge of the Pillar to bring him and his eldest daughter, Pia, back to their Earth. Upon their arrival there he was promptly arrested by the forces of the villainous corporate executive Mr. Block and his rival Kadir moved in with his family.
Grant McKay and his kin have endured a lot, and they've one final raging storm of obstacles and adversaries to weather as Remender and Scalera bring “Black Science” to a close with an epic 13-issue storyline where a whole host of familiar and forgotten inter dimensional threats will return with a vengeance.
In “Black Science” #26, the stage was set for the final arc with an issue that put the spotlight on Pia McKay, revealed the dangerous and narcissistic nature of Mister Block, and brought back Chandra, a reluctant member of Grant McKay's dimensionauts who has been possessed by a seemingly malevolent fire spirit.
Below, Remender opens about these revelations, the role Kadir will play in the book's final storyline, how superheroes will figure into upcoming issues, and what fans can expect from “Black Science's” big finale.
CBR: “Black Science” returned for a new arc with #26; an issue that felt like the top of a big roller coaster-style drop worth of stories. How much velocity will the book pick up with these next few issues?
Rick Remender: Quite a bit. The hard part of doing responsible storytelling is slowing down often and doing a lot of character development. There's a population of comic fans that will grumble about that, but when the shit goes down, they're always happier when they care about the people that the shit is going down on. So we've been doing a bit of character development and slowing things down. We've taken a couple of big veers and landed back on our Earth with a new status quo for Pia, Kadir, Grant and Sara.
I just finished locking down the tight outline for what will be the next 13 issues. It's just one, big 13-issue story. If you're a fan of my nonsense, it's a good time to be reading “Black Science” because all the crazy stuff we've been setting up, all the plans we have for the climax are coming to fruition here in the next few issues. So #26 is the beginning of crazy town lady sing a song doo-da, doo-da.
[Laughs] One element of issue #26 that I found especially enjoyable was the focus on Pia. What was it like writing her in the spotlight? And will she continue to have a big a role moving forward?
Yeah, Pia plays a big role. One thing that I'm allowing myself to do a little bit more is drift into some other character perspectives. There's part of me that has a symmetry issue where it's like, “We've never heard Pia's thoughts before, so we can't hear them now.”[Laughs] Thankfully, I realized that was a weird O.C.D. tick.
What I did was, I wrote her captions to get into her head and make her sort of the P.O.V. character, and it worked great. My brain just had this weird issue with it because I hadn't done this with her before, but I did do something similar early on when we switched to Ward's internal captions in issues #2-3.
“Fear Agent” was all from Heath Huston's point of view. So one of the things I wanted to do with “Black Science” was drift around, hop in and out of people's heads, and make each member of the ensemble the focal at one point or another.
Pia's moments in the spotlight in issue #26 led to some interactions with Kadir, a character whose choices often surprise me. Can you talk about the role he'll play in this arc?
Kadir's role in this story has yet to be entirely revealed. He's definitely going to play a big role in what's coming up. His predicament as we find him right now is completely justifiable. When you look at things from Kadir's point of view it's not like he's been wrong about things. Of course there's all kinds of aspects going on with him that we don't know about; things that happened between Grant, Kadir and Sara. I've kind of saved that on purpose, to start slowly unveiling here in the next couple of issues as we build into the wild climax that's coming.
In issue #26, Kadir hints that Sarah marrying Grant instead of him came about because of a twist of fate. Was that new information he was revealing? Or something we had heard about before?
We had heard that before. In the second trade paperback, there's an entire issue where all Kadir is doing is thinking about how much he loves Sara, how much he wants to get the kids back to her, and that those are the main reasons why he's really doing any of this.
The entire time, he's also grappling with the fact of whether or not he's a scumbag. Does he actually care about the kids? Or does he just want to earn points with Sara and get her back? There was some flashback stuff in those issues that I cut because they showed a little too much of my hand.
I set up that there's a long history between Grant, Kadir and Sara in the second trade, then we got to see some of that payoff when Pia and Grant came back to Earth. Now there will be a few more big reveals in terms of their dynamic and history with one another.
That's all going to be in the background of a lot of big action. One of the things I wanted to make sure I did here was to slow down for a little bit, catch my breath, and sink into some character stuff. Now we're going to resume the insane, breakneck pace we had for the first trade paperback. That's going to be the new status quo for the next 10-14 issues.
Issue #26 showed more of how dangerous and nasty Kadir's employer is with a meeting between Mr. Block and a number of his interdimensional counterparts. Is Block what happens when someone with a Narcissistic personality disorder is given the chance to spread their influence everywhere and grab ultimate power?
Yeah, it's interesting to think about somebody whose ultimate goal is just domination and then you give them a tool like the Pillar, where they can spread that interdimensionally. I like the idea of a filthy corporate executive who got his hands on something that would enable trade with other dimensions. So instead of seeing all the wonderful things that could be done with the technology he only sees new trade routes, ways of making money, and gaining dominance in the marketplace and as a person. It's that classic sociopathic narcissism.
With Block there's obviously some more stuff to come that we haven't seen and there's some nice reveals. I knew Block was going to be this irredeemable rotten guy on all the worlds where we ran into him, and early on in the book's development I grappled with that for a while. Because that always feels like you're creating a mustache twirler. All you have to do though is go read the news and you can kind of get your head around a guy who is willfully ignorant of facts, doesn't care about the effects that his behavior has on the environment, has no empathy for his fellow human beings, is braggadocios, and is full of his shit. Then you see that there are plenty of dudes like that.
So it was okay that Block didn't have what Kadir has. Kadir can be a gray area character, but Block is just a scum bag
Block wasn't the only threat you dealt with in “Black Science” #26. We also saw the return of the fire spirit possessed Chandra and it looks like shes been quite busy since we last saw her.
Indeed she has. What are those sentient ghosts? And why were they on that ice world? When one of them possessed Chandra before they left and then it ended up getting its hands on a Pillar and leaving it seemed liked a threat came and went. The fun though of having a book like “Black Science,” where we're dealing with so many issues and quite a bit of time, is that I'm able to set things up and then let them pay out when you completely forgot about them. That excites me the most; when people did not see it coming at all.
So, in that final scene we had Chandra and Roman Ward, and we saw Chandra posses his world shortly after Grant and his team left it. Now they are spreading. There's a lot of interesting stuff coming up as to what these things are, what their ultimate goal is, and how far they spread. There's also the millipedes.
Basically everything that's happened in the book has been setting something up that has a pretty monumental payout coming in the next few issues.
That final scene with Chandra had a classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” style feel to it. Was that what you were aiming for?
It's all been done, and I've done plenty of the possession stuff myself in books like “Sorrow,” “Fear Agent,” and there was even some possession stuff in “Uncanny X-Force.” Possession has always creeped me out and when we find out what these things are there is a Body Snatchers element to it for sure, but there is something more.
We'll find out more about that in issue #27, but looking ahead to the cover of issue #28, which features what appears to be a team of superheroes, it looks like you'll soon have some fun with some of the old tropes and conventions of one of your former writing jobs.
[Laughs] A bit. Some of the characters will be taking a journey to a world populated by superhero style champions who fight and punch for justice.
Will this issue mark the return of a familiar face? Is that Grant's son and Pia's little brother Nate with the heroes on the cover of issue #28?
No, thats somebody else entirely. There is information about Nate though coming out of those issues.
Your “Black Science” collaborator Matteo Scalera does such a great job with all the different fantastic elements of the series, like superheroes, that's it often easy to forget or overlook how great he is with the human elements of the book. For instance, in issue #26 I was really impressed by the detail that went into characters' faces. Kadir's scars and Mr. Block's pock marked face were especially well done and told you a lot about the characters.
Yeah, visually it's one of those things where you grapple with wanting to subvert expectations and lean away from tropes. Sometimes, though, it's okay to have a big, rotten, corporate executive monster whose face is pock marked and is monstrous and evil looking. Sometimes it's okay to have a villain look and sound like a villain.
I guess I've kind of come full circle. I've worked for so many years trying to make my villains gray area and relatable and with Block I was like, “Nope. He's just a dick.”
[Laughs] Finally, you mentioned earlier that these next 13 issues of “Black Science” set the stage for the book’s climax. So will the book be coming to a close soon? Is the “Black Science” series finale within sight?
I grapple with doing more, but I do think this will be it. We'll have our wrap up around issue #40, and the ending is something that Matteo and I just spent a couple hours today on Skype talking about. We're both really excited about what we have planned.
If I could be a little self-aggrandizing I stick landings pretty well. I work pretty hard to make sure that a landing is stuck. This will probably be one of my best endings I've ever done. That's how excited we are about the ideas and how it all comes together. In fact, I'll just be braggadocios and say that it's going to be one of the best endings of any comic book in the history of the universe.