In the comics, heroic struggles often involve brave men and women trying to foil the schemes of fiendish villains -- but that doesn't mean a bad guy is necessary in order to tell a heroic tale. Sometimes the most noble thing a person can do is try to atone for the mistakes they've made. Such is the case for Grant McKay, the protagonist of writer Rick Remender and artist Matteo Scalera's creator owned series, “Black Science." A scientist whose actions has stranded his family all across “The Eververse” of dimensions, Grant is currently making the first steps on his new heroic journey by rescuing his daughter Pia from medieval fantasy-style world.
Of course, good intentions can have unintended consequences. With the Image Comics series' milestone 25th issue on the horizon, Grant's quest to be a better person is going to lead to another shotgun blast-style of storytelling that characterized the series first several issues: intense character moments, fast action, and plenty of imaginative worlds. CBR News spoke with Remender about his plans for the series, the appeal of the book's dimension hopping focus, and some lingering mysteries that are about to come more into focus, like the enigmatic and nefarious multi-dimensional being known as Mr. Blokk.
CBR News: The dimension hopping set up of “Black Science” allows you explore a number of different genres, and for this arc, you and Matteo have settled in on a fantasy story.
Rick Remender: For the first bit of it, yes. As you said, one of the wonderful promises of the series is that we can continuously change things up.
We had done quite a bit of that in the first trade. Then, with the next couple trades, I tried to pick one world and settle in there for a little while so that we weren't hurtling too quickly from world to world. With the fourth trade, we did a little bit of jumping, and now we're going to ramp back up to having more dimension jumps. So, yes the first bit to this current arc has a strange fantasy element to it, for sure.
It feels like this world that you and Matteo have built draws from classic faerie tales and the anime of Hayao Miyazaki.
Sure. There's some Greek and Norse mythology in there as well. There's also some [Jack] Kirby and some Moebius god creatures. There were so many different influences and things that kind of pop up in this.
I'm very fortunate that Matteo and all the other artists I work with aren't just world class illustrators, but world class storytellers as well. They really are at the top of their game. Not only that, we're a professional organization of comic book madness that is getting our books out on time and in stores. That's because of them. The fact that we're able to do that and have “Black Science” look so stunning is absolutely because Matteo Scalera is a genius. Matteo is a diamond in the rough, and is going to go down as one of the greats in the industry.
The first part of this arc is kind of a departure from the stories we've seen in “Black Science” in that it's been almost a humorous tale as we watch Grant McKay inadvertently mess up the life his daughter has built for herself.
The big arc for Grant started with him as this guy who was trying to do the right thing, but in doing so, had done things the wrong way and failed his family. He's a guy who wanted to save the world from the environmental catastrophes he saw coming; he wanted to do that for his kids, but he also used that as an excuse to stay away from his family and not be present for them.
So the arc for him, so far, has been a journey of realizing that his kids had grown up without him and realizing the damage that he did, even with the best intentions in building the Pillar [the device Grant built that allows him to traverse dimensions]. Then, in the “Godworld” arc, we put him a place where he had to deal with the physical manifestation of his neurosis and all of his internal conflicts. The turning point after “Godworld” was, he finished things up with his lab partner and former mistress, Rebecca.
Now, Grant is in a different headspace. This is a calm and sort of collected Grant who knows himself and knows what he's done. He also knows what he has to do to fix it. He's not the same sort of confused and desperate man that we saw earlier in the book.
What I've enjoyed most about Grant's current status quo is the fact that just because he know he has to sort of save the day and win his family back doesn't mean he's automatically good at doing those things. These past few issues, he's been a real screw up in dealing with his daughter.
He really has been, and I like writing that because I often feel like that in life. I feel like I wake up everyday to make some new mistakes, but I think the challenge in life is to learn from them and to continue to do your best in life moving forward and try to be a better person. Grant gets to personify that a little bit in that he's constantly got two left feet, but he's stumbling and bumbling in the right direction. Hopefully, the readers are really rooting for him.
You also seem to really enjoy writing Grant's daughter, Pia. It feels like a whole lot has happened to her off-panel; might we get a chance to witness some of her as-yet unseen exploits at some point?
We'll discuss it, but I think it's one of those things where we had that time jump that allowed us to make some changes to the characters and have them progress a bit, which then gives more mystery to where each one of them are at and how they've changed, but I don't necessarily think that we will do flashbacks showing a lot of what happened in that time. Some of the flashbacks that I have planned will fill in other gaps, but we're at a point right now where there are some big changes coming in issue #24, which is a really wonderful point in the story when where you think we're headed is suddenly turned on its head.
It's hard, because I've been building up to this for a while. The pacing of it is very intentional. So when this big change happens, hopefully it will shock people and be a lot of fun. Then, in issues #25-26, we deal with a new status quo for the cast that we've been building to for a while. After that, we return to the shotgun-style storytelling of the first story arc for at least ten issues. That will be a culmination of all of this story.
It's a bummer to have it all outlined, because I have to sit on it. As much as I'd just like to tell everybody the story, we have to reveal it one chapter at a time.
It sounds like the “putting the band back together” feel of the book is about to change.
I don't want to spoil anything by saying what will and what won't change, but I think the events of issue #24 will be fun. We're building up the story velocity and paying out a lot of various things that have been boiling in the background that I'm not sure people have been paying attention to. There's a lot of things that we've been seeding and showing that are now coming to a head, and around issue #27 we'll have put them in a tough enough situation that we'll get into a pretty good 10-issue groove
One of those elements that we haven't seen much of lately is Mr. Blokk, the mysterious figure that has menaced Grant and his family in many different forms and dimensions.
That is one of the stories that we have allowed to percolate slowly. He really is sort of the central villain of the book, but we don't know much about him. We also know absolutely nothing about the Mr. Blokk on the Earth that Grant is originally from; “our world,” as it were. We're definitely going to start to pay that out, along with all of the other threats.
There is a mega-outline, here. All of the things that they've gone to and done play a role in this puzzle. I'm itching to reveal it all and finally show people the big picture.
Does your current outline map “Black Science” out to its conclusion, or is there still a lot left to develop?
There's a lot left to develop. I know the story quite well up until issue #38. Then we have tons of ideas for stuff after that.
It feels like the dimension-hopping set up for the series is fertile ground for ideas in that the story can keep evolving and changing.
I think that as long as you're telling a character-focused story, and that there are clear intentions with the character arcs that are satisfying to the readers, you can keep changing elements of the story. It's satisfying to us, because the characters are basically on the same path as if they were just having these adventures in one plane of existence, but we've found a way to weave the “Eververse” into the whole thing. That allows us to genre hop and move to new worlds. So while these character arcs and all this other stuff is happening, we get to stay excited by imagining the worlds where the next chapters of our story will take place.