Writer – Rick Remender, Artists – Matteo Scalera, Dean White
After the meandering second volume, Black Science comes back around with a bang for its third outing. This time the Anarchist League of Scientists find themselves stranded on a Roman-esque world which has been devastated by a plague. Their opposite number dimensionauts from this world brought the plague with them in their travels through the onion, only adding to the destruction and death that comes with traveling between planes of existence. Prime Grant McKay has been restored from his apparent demise at the end of the first volume, and is fighting for his kids, the way home, and to save this devastated world.
Remender has never been shy about killing off main characters. I said at the end of the first volume that I wasn’t sure how many people would be left standing by the end (probably just the two kids, I’d guess). By my count, at least four characters are killed or are near death at the end of this volume, by as McKay’s return proves, nothing is quite certain.
Family is at the center of this arc, from the other dimension’s Sara trying to protect the kids she’s seen die too many times, Grant fighting to restore his family, or Rebecca’s true motives for wanting to complete the pillar (hinted at in Volume 2). The narrative is tightly focused on loss, both the personal losses suffered by the characters, and the destruction their pursuit of science has wrought.
Despite these heavy themes, the book manages to be playful at times, the vaccination spreading machine in particular was quite amusing. Scalera’s designs area a little more muted than the beautiful first volume, but still quite engaging.
Kadir gets short-shrift, with very little page time, mostly spending it complaining that people don’t appreciate him enough. He was the most interesting thing in Volume 2, swearing to protect Grant’s kids as he dealt with the consequences of trying to sabotage the dimensional pillar. He was complex, layered, and pragmatic. In this volume he comes across as whiny, like the difference between how Loki is portrayed in Thor versus The Avengers (films).
As with the previous volumes, we’re left with a pretty significant cliffhanger. At this point there are so many forces trying to kill the dimensionauts, take over all the worlds, or just wreak general havoc, that it’s a wonder the body count’s been as low as it has. More than the previous volume, this ending has me waiting with great anticipation for when the series returns in November.
(4 stars | You might want to go back and read Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 if it’s been a while)
*I received a free ARC from NetGalley in return for an honest review