Comic Book / Black Science

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Black Science is an ongoing series written by Rick Remender and drawn by Matteo Scalera. It launched in 2013.

Grant McKay, former member of the Anarchistic Order of Scientists, has finally done the impossible: He has deciphered black science and punched through the barriers of reality. His invention, the pillar, allows him and his fellow Dimensionauts to leap between worlds at will, taking anything they want for the benefit of their home reality. At least, that was the plan. But when one of Grant's team members sabotages the pillar, causing it to jump to random locations at random times, the group is left stranded in and struggles to survive on, increasingly bizarre and nightmarish worlds.

This series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: An early issue teased the team penetrating the onionsphere all the way down to the core to solve their problems. It never came up again.
  • Accidentally Broke the MacGuffin: Grant manages to obliterate the forevermids on his arrival in Tarana. This sets off a new quest to recover another MacGuffin to fix the first one.
  • Alternate Universe / Another Dimension:
    • The premise. While the dimensions the team jumps through are all wildly different and alien, there are multiple Grant McKays. Each of these versions of Grant creates a pillar, the pillar is always sabotaged, the kids always die, and Kadir is always the saboteur.
    • Another theory is that the dimensions where pillar research has been conducted (by Grant or an alternate like him) are the easiest ones for pillars to reach. One set of travelers speaks of following the cracks left by other pillars as easier than jumping somewhere new.
  • Anyone Can Die: Many casualties, but diluted due to the existence of alternate-universe duplicates of the lead characters.
    • Within the first few pages Jen becomes the first dimensionaut casualty to set the stakes.
    • Ward later in the first volume.
    • With the death of Grant the book pushes into Dwindling Party territory.
    • Rebecca meets a final end in the fourth volume.
  • Apocalypse How: Multiversal/Physical Annihilation, scaling up to Omniversal. Grant discovers bizarre voids in the multiverse and theorizes they are the result of antimatter universes existing alongside matter universes. That's fine until a pillar rips into one from the other, allowing antimatter to stream through the cracks in reality all the way back to the pillar's origin universe. Any dimensionaut who travels to enough universes will eventually trigger this for everything they've visited.
  • Arc Symbol: The dimensionauts adopt a symbol of circle and two nesting crescents to symbolize the onionlike nature of the eververse. It shows up everywhere in their travels to alternate realities as holy symbol, war banner, architectural detail, etc.
  • Autodoc: The shaman carries one. It's a computer that snaps over his wrist that uses various rays to fix anything he asks with a voice-activated AI.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: The dimension the team lands in during issue 4 features one.
  • Bigger Bad: Most of the series conflict revolves around Grant's team trying to fix the pillar and go home. Above that is Mr Block, who financed the pillar's testing and prototyping and intends to use it to dominate the eververse. When he shows up in issue 24 he doesn't disappoint.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rebecca turns on the rest of the group and sends Grant and his kids into disparate dimensions in order to arrive in a reality where her brother didn't die at a young age. She proceeds to murder that reality's version of herself and take her place.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Grant's intelligence is reduced to average human as part of a desperate bargain.
  • The Chosen One: Pia's solo crash landing happened to coincide with that universe's Eucalyptus prophecy. She took advantage of the prophecy to secure political capital and lead negotiations to fulfill it.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Pia gets one in the background of issue 22. She's completely separated both from her family and homeworld, but she manages to secure a diplomatic alliance and negotiates a long-term peace between warring clans. Then Grant shows up...
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Kadir's attitude and facial expressions give Carter Burke a run for his money, and Grant is convinced that the man is nothing more than a politicking idiot who'd rather take credit than do any work himself. He's wrong. While Kadir did sabotage the pillar, he was doing it to keep all the various dimensions from destroying each other.
  • Cure for Cancer: The primary exhibit in Block's investor meeting showcasing his successes from alternate dimensions is a medical device he claims as this.
  • Deal with the Devil: Doxta the witch will offer you a trade. The terms will be clear up front, but you will only learn what it means by experiencing it.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Subverted. Grant seemingly dies at the end of the sixth issue, with Kadir taking over the role afterwards - until Grant gets back.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Kadir is actually a subversion. Yes, he sabotaged the pillar, but he did so to prevent Grant from unwittingly destroying reality and to keep the pillar out of Block's control.
  • Dimensional Traveller: The protagonists.
  • Dirty Coward: Kadir leaves Ward to die, then tells everyone that Ward tried to pull a You Shall Not Pass.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The forevermids are individually powerful artifacts, but together form the omnimid.
  • The Dreaded: Even Prince Kor, who can harness cosmic wind into an axe that judges intentions and shatters mountains, fears to approach the witch Doxta. When all three tribes debate whether to retrieve the Oxen Heart the question is whether Doxta will kill all of them or only most of them.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Kadir might be a dirty coward. He might be an unbelievably smug corrupt corporate executive. But he's decent enough to push Grant out of the way of an ax and take the blow himself, despite being in a knock-down fistfight with the man himself at the time, and then agree to take care of Grant's kids when it's clear he's going to die.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Inverted: the alternate versions of Grant and Sara hold this view of the main cast.
    • Rebecca openly says she merely "replaced" her double, not just killed her.
  • Expy: Kadir for one Dr. Zachery Smith, a Dirty Coward and saboteur, who ultimately becomes a more heroic character as time goes on.
  • Fainting: Sara gets the emotional version when she is informed that Grant, blamed for multiple murders and kidnapping her children, was seen outside chasing Pia mere moments ago.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Doxta's stock threat. Her go-to is removing someone's strongest attribute, like courage or intelligence.
    Doxta: Dying is easy. Living with loss is not.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of 1960's sci-fi adventures like Lost in Space and Weird Science.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: No one in the comic is purely good or evil.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Doxta is all over the place. She implies she's actually a guardian of great power doing good to keep it from those who would misuse it. She also implies it amuses her to injure people and watch them deal with it for the rest of their lives. Then she claims she manipulated Grant's arrival so she could steal pillar technology and escape her dimension. While leaving she promises she'll see Grant again...
  • I Gave My Word: One of Kadir's few principles.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The shaman says the Native Americans got their high tech from a dimensionaut alien whose ship crash-landed.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: The pillar.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Grant drinks the Mountain Queen's gorb'd wine immediately before his formal apology to the convened tribes. His speech turns into a maudlin drunk rant.
  • Irony: Grant, the inventor of the pillar, dies when he is crushed by a giant pillar.
  • It's All About Me: Grant's Fatal Flaw.
  • Jerkass: Kadir and Grant are both not very nice people.
  • Kick the Dog: Kadir moves up and down the scale of heroism and villainy over the series. He starts as a transparently evil executive, redeems himself by protecting Grant's kids in his absence, ruins that by opposing Grant on his return, then reveals he's been sabotaging pillars to keep them out of Block's hands. To firmly secure his place as a villain he bribes his way into Grant's cell and beats the hell out of him.
  • Kill and Replace: Rebecca does this to an alternate reality version of herself in order to be in a world where her twin brother didn't die years before.
  • Killer Rabbit: Peterson's dimensionauts return a number of fuzzy pets from one foray. One grows to enormous size, sprouts tentacles, and announces itself as Har'Logh the Defiler before slaughtering the team.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • In the first issue Grant impulsively rescues a frog-person slave. On reaching the surface they meet her husband. The husband is grateful for his wife's return and leads his warriors against Grant's pursuers, allowing Grant to escape.
    • Rebecca had been sleeping with Grant and ruined the experiment, leaving him to die and nearly killing everyone else. She then murdered her double in another universe just to live in a world where her brother was alive, marrying a man and having a child. Grant finds the body of that world's Rebecca with the murder weapon. He proceeds to tell the cops who inform Rebecca's brother and husband. Rebecca finds the brother she spent years missing ripping into her as an imposter who killed his beloved sister and her husband taking their child away. She finds Grant in a field as he relates how he's not going to kill her as "this is better." He leaves as police cars race up to arrest Rebecca who knows she can't tell the whole truth and thus has to known as a murderous psychopath hated by the brother and husband she loved.
  • Last Request: While dying, Grant asks Kadir to make sure that his children get home safely. Kadir agrees.
  • Love Triangle: Kadir loves Sara loves Grant.
  • MacGuffin: The forevermids/omnimid of Tarana, which do something when united. Later, the Oxen Heart necessary to repair them.
  • Mad Scientist: Grant, debatably. He's clearly a genius physicist, but his expression of it is tied to his rejection of all authority figures. While exploring his mind Doxta specifically asked whether his madness caused or held back his genius. Apparently it runs in the family; Grant says his father was diagnosed crazy.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Mr Block keeps both Kadir and Pia quiet by a) giving them a bunch of money and b) threatening to murder Sara if they talk.
  • Papa Wolf: Grant was an absentee father up until the pillar experiment went awry. Now he aspires to be one of these to his kids but usually fails.
  • Pet the Dog: Kadir agrees to make sure Grant's kids get home safely.
  • Posthumous Character: Jen dies in the first few pages of the first issue but she's fleshed out a bit in flashbacks to the lab. Her big moment is the reveal that she designed the Arc Symbol (in the original dimension, at least).
  • Reality-Breaking Paradox: What Alternate Grant and Sara want to avoid.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Attempted by two parents grieving the loss of their children: they try to kidnap the kids from an alternate reality version of their own family.
  • Save Both Worlds:
    • Grant cites this as his objective for every world but he's usually too caught up in simple survival to carry through.
    • Alternate Grant / Sara cite this when attempting to stop anyone else from using pillar technology.
    • Kadir of all people believes that pillars are too dangerous specifically in the hands of Mr Block and spends his energy sabotaging all the research before Block can get to it.
  • Schmuck Bait: Peterson's team of dimensionauts returns from a successful foray with a couple of generically-cute fuzzballs. One has a red button on its head. Someone pushes it with lethal results.
  • Science Hero: Grant is a genius at... whatever science the pillar uses. Most of his displays of technical wizardry are based around getting the thing to work. He claims that he's motivated by finding the fix-all technology that multiverse travel offers to help his children, with For Science! as a close second.
  • Slasher Smile: Kadir, repeatedly.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Far on the cynical side.
  • Smug Snake: Kadir again.
  • Stout Strength: Mr Block, when he finally shows up, is both obese and physically able to toss Pia around like a ragdoll.
  • They Called Me Mad!: It's implied that Grant and Shawn's ideas could have been developed within the scientific community. Instead Grant chose to go outside the system with private investment to get a functional prototype faster. This doubles as a screw-you to the perceived hidebound establishment.
  • Title Drop:
    • One in a flashback to the lab, where Block Science has been graffitied to Black Science.
    • Grant explicitly refers to the pillar tchnology as Black Science. Other characters do the same.
  • Torture Cellar: Peterson refers to an armored division kidnapping women from another dimension for Mr Block's "rumpus room". Knowing Block, it probably doesn't have a foosball table.
  • Unsuspectingly Soused: Grant takes a sip of the Mountain Queen's wine to steady himself for his formal speech. Turns out the mountain people drink gorb'd wine that is fantastically strong.
  • We Have Reserves: As Peterson's dimensionaut team is being debriefed one of their specimens breaks free. Despite Peterson's begging Block seals the door and the team is slaughtered. Block calmly orders for the chamber to be cleared and a new team sent out.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Grant was cheating on his wife with Rebecca. Pia implies it's not the first time.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Invoked by Kadir when he explains what happened to Ward. He's lying his ass off.

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