After this many issues of Black Science, you’d think that writer Rick Remender and artist Matteo Scalera would have run out of ways to raise the stakes, but if Black Science #30 proves anything, it proves that the level of cataclysmic jeopardy dogging Grant McKay’s every decision can always go from bad to worse. Reminder and Scalera’s impressive ability to invent new and more apocalyptic situations to thrill readers is matched only by their laser-sharp focus on examining the choices, mistakes and motivations of their deeply flawed if ultimately heroic protagonist. It’s another top notch issue, that leads into what may be the ultimate threat Grant must face.
Grant has returned home to find his life in tatters, and though he has successfully freed himself from the metal institution he had been committed to, he’s not enjoying being proven right. Enemies from throughout his journeys have followed him back home, and now his Earth is under threat from forces he’s failed to stop in the past, all with their own grudge against, and plans for, Grant. As Grant and his brother Brian try to make their way to Grant’s estranged wife, Sara, the duplicitous Kadir attempts to vainly salvage his reputation and come out on top.
This issue is all about racheting up the stakes and putting the cast and indeed the planet in the highest jeopardy in the series to date. We’ve seen Grant face many of these threats before, and he’s never trust beaten any of them, merely managed to escape. And that was when he possessed a level of genius he no longer seems to have. Black Science #30 is not the deepest or most nuanced exploration of its recurring themes, but it’s not intending to be either. What Remender and Scalera want it to be is the part of the story where everything goes to crap; where the reader thinks to themselves that our heroes might not be able to pull the fat our of the fire. In this sense, the issue is a rousing success, operating at a breakneck pace, careening from place to place, character to character, as all of Grant’s proverbial chickens come home to roost.
One of the best things about Black Science as a series is its focus on examining the level of culpability Grant has in what’s happening. His anarchic pursuit of science for science’s sake, free of consideration of ethics, his allegiance to “Black Science” has led to all this, of course. But Remender has created other characters, such as Kadir, that juxtapose Grant’s obsession with pure science against cynical exploitation of science, and this issue nicely continues that aspect. Grant and Brian’s heroic attempts to save their loved ones, to try and figure out a solution and above all, to atone, is mirrored by Kadir’s self-interested drive for redemption and praise and success.
There’s also giant, profane monsters, psychic insectoid zealots, body-snatching gas monsters, jetpacks, bike chases and general destruction. So it’s got plenty of thrills and chills.
Scalera’s art is, of course, wonderful. The artist long ago proved to be a master of weird landscapes, crazy alien creatures and fast-paced action. He hasn’t had to craft this much insane chaos very often, however, and he outdoes himself with Black Science #30, which starts off at 100 mph and doesn’t let up.
Based on interviews, we’re about ten issues away from the end of Black Science, and this issue feels like part of a climax to the story of Grant McKay. I’ll be sad to see it go, of course, but I’m glad to see this final act of the story is going to swing for the fences and Black Science #30 illustrates how high and earth-shattering the stakes are. 8.5/10