Seth Tomko is a writer, college-level educator, and adventurer.
Following the cataclysmic events across multiple dimensions from the previous volume, Grant and Sara McKay have spent the last year trying to find a way back to their home and their children. In doing so, they appear to be endangering multiple dimensions because every time they jump, the pillar creates fracture points between dimensions that is leaking antimatter, destroying whole dimensions. Grant and Sara are forced to deal with the estrangement in the marriage and even witness dimensions where they took different paths in life, slowly reconciling themselves to their mistakes and the poor choices they made that hurt themselves and each other. Together they take a leap of faith to force their way into what might be the center of the dimensional onion and confront the “angelic” Grant and Kadir of that dimension, demanding justification for all the rippling repercussions their conflict has spread across all dimensions. All the while, the annihilating spread of antimatter creeps closer, hemming in Grant and Sara and possibly cutting them off from ever seeing their children again.
Interdimensional Marriage Counseling
The slowdown of these issues is damaging. The previous two volumes had the hallmarks of a prolonged climax, wherein all the central characters were in one place at one time, struggling against the collected antagonistic forces with the possibility of defeat and the destruction of the multiverse a real possibility. The energy and tension ramped up, and characters made fateful choices to try and solve the myriad of obstacles that developed, some over the course of the whole series. This eighth volume dispenses with all of that for what amounts to prolonged introspection and couples therapy, which not only dissolves all building tension but also amounts to a retread of what readers have seen before. The Godworld volume already pulled this trick, so it makes Grant appear as though he’s made no personal development since that time.
The focus on Sara is interesting in isolation, but it comes at the expense of all forward momentum the series created. The exploration of her character could certainly have come at a less intrusive time. On a similar note, for a character who hasn’t been an actively player for most of the series, to turn so much attention on her comes across as a strange choice, especially since she has more concentrated development than Nate or Shawn at this point.
On a different note, there is an irksome quality to Grant’s staunch atheism, and it bespeaks to a serious lack of imagination on his part. He can travel across dimension, meet an amazing variety of alien creatures, discover echoes of himself across multiple dimensions, use his wits to overcome nearly impossible problems, and even suggest there is a deliberate design to the multiverse. However, his refusal to acknowledge the possibility of anything resembling a divine power is shockingly myopic. This isn’t to say Grant needs to make a 180° turn and join a monastery, but it would show some growth on his part to show an openness to possibilities he previously discounted. Other parts of his personality have changed, so this static element is apparent.
Eververse and Neververse
Scalera’s art remains excellent. Even when the narrative fails to live up to its potential or to the course it established, Black Science is incredible to look at. There are many wonderful panels where the art alone tells the story, which works well in the slower scenes. When there is action, the images are kinetic and sell the sense of danger and destruction that the actions of the characters can cause.
For readers interested in prolonged character studies, this volume scratch that itch. For everyone who thought Black Science was coming to its climax and resolution, this one is bound to disappoint in that regard. Issues 37 and 38 do show Grant and Sara making progress toward their stated goal of heading to the Center to locate their children, but everything leading up to that feels like unwarranted side-tracking.
Remender, Rick; Scalera, Matteo. Black Science, Vol. 8: Later Than You Think. Image, 2018.
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