Zeb Larson reviews Black Science #17…
A bold new era in BLACK SCIENCE begins! New arc! New direction! New readers: join the Dimensionauts in a psychedelic journey of the soul!
Black Science is back, and issue #17 raises far more questions than it answers, a challenge given the massive cliffhanger that it left us with. In this latest issue, time has passed and Grant is starting to lose his mind as he struggles to fix the Pillar. The disjointed narratives and the hint of possible madness complicates the story, but it rejuvenates the book yet again and sets it off on a new tangent. I will be discussing spoilers ahead, so consider yourself forewarned.
In a long intro, we catch back up with Grant McKay. Three years have passed since the events of the last issue, which saw the remainder of his team scattered across the Eververse. Grant has been trying to fix the Pillar so that he can find his children and kill Rebecca, but something is making his memory decay. Actually, it’s more than just his memory that’s going. He has weird visions of aliens giving him advice and commands in between traumatic dreams of his childhood, particularly his mother who terrorized him as a little kid. As his visions become more intense and the line between reality and fantasy blurs, Grant will have to try and find a way out to try and save his children.
Make no bones about it: this is not an easy comic to follow. Grant knows that his grasp of reality is eroding in this place, and it means that we as readers can’t easily take for granted everything that goes on here. The first half at least is driven by exposition to Grant’s hilariously inquisitive mount, which must rank with the most irritating companions in all of fiction. After Grant’s dream back at home though, everything feels increasingly fragmented. Is the battle with the monster real, or the appearance of a brother who I don’t think we’ve heard of? Is this all a dream, or a hallucination, or is it more abstract but still real?
Everything keeps coming back to family, which is what makes this so interesting. Family is a dual-edged sword in this book. Family is quite literally haunting Grant throughout this issue: his missing children, his ex-wife (worrying at home, or so he hopes), his brother who shows up to help and may or may not exist, and most of all, his mother. On the other hand, chasing after his family (and to a lesser extent, finding and killing Rebecca) is what keeping Grant in his own head. His objectives may not be entirely healthy, and he certainly has a long history of unintended consequences, but without family Grant’s sense of self would seemingly be gone.
What’s interesting to me about this arc is that the location feels like a kind of purgatory. The place is referred to as Godworld, but it really seems like a place where Grant has had to confront himself. He’s alone again and has to confront himself over his failings, especially regarding his children. His hangups and fears about kinship and family are all coming to light, and as he travels through this place with his brother, it seems like Grant will have to confront more of those things if he wants to go home.