BLACK SCIENCE #35 by Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera, Moreno Dinisio
BLACK SCIENCE #35 is low on action but high on characterization and emotive story-telling. It's a stellar start to "Later Than You Think" as the series heads towards its conclusion.
98 %
Heart Wrencher

You won’t see me write this often in a comic book review, but here goes: Have a box of tissues ready. BLACK SCIENCE #35 by writer Rick Remender and artist Matteo Scalera is absolutely heart-wrenching. Most of the issue concentrates on Sara McKay as she tries to come to terms with what could have been and what might be. Series creators Remender and Scaler really get to the heart of things here. BLACK SCIENCE #35 shows just how thoroughly they’ve thought through these characters and interpersonal relations in general.

 The Beginning of the End

Part One of the “Later Than You Think” arc, BLACK SCIENCE #35 promises to be a new chapter in the long-running series, which began at the tail end of 2o13. The issue also brings us one step closer to the big finale, as there are only seven issues left in the series. And the finality permeates the entire issue. Emotion — a sense of longing of what could have been, combined with introspection and sometimes even anger — seeps from almost every page. I read a lot of dark comics, including having seen almost all my favorite characters in THE WALKING DEAD die. Yet I truly have not read a more realistic portrayal of human emotions than what Remender and Scaler depict in BLACK SCIENCE #35.

Courtesy of Image Comics

The issue begins in media res with a red-haired, white-coated woman greeting Sara and her mad scientist ex-husband, Grant McKay. They are still searching for their kids, Pia and Nate. Grant’s temper immediately emerges, as he chastises the woman for making him and his ex-wife wait “for fucking hours,” despite sending them a message saying that they come right away.

To the woman’s credit, she doesn’t mince words and lays it all out to Grant and Sara. She tells them that her group’s mission is to help the ex-couple “come to terms with an unpleasant reality … Your mission is destroying all reality.” Honestly, “an unpleasant reality” is a huge understatement in BLACK SCIENCE #35. In a matter of moments, she reveals to them that Kadir destroyed Grant and Sara’s universe. Plus, basically Pia and Nate probably are dead. Ready for those tissues yet?

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Oh, But That Heart-Wrenching’s Just the Start

Soon, we find out just who the red-haired woman works for. Ready for this? It’s the Interdimensional Institute for Marital Restoration. Yes, you read that correctly and, I agree with you, it’s a phrase I never thought I’d read in a comic. Sara quickly declares that she and Grant are not interested in restoring their marriage. (And who can blame her? Grant’s really kind of a jerk.) But, get this, they have to restore their marriage “for the sake of all worlds.” This scenario probably is quite a few divorced couples’ worst nightmares. And the look that Sara gives Grant shows that it’s her worst nightmare too.

Much of the emotional burden in BLACK SCIENCE #35 is on Sara. She has to confront her own emotional issues, the very ones that made her fall for a damaged soul like Grant. As if that level of introspection isn’t enough, Sara also has to travel to an alternate world where she is a Broadway performer. Seeing a reality where one’s aspirations come true sounds pretty awesome, but there’s a catch. Her relationship with Grant also fails in this reality and our Sara has to see Broadway performer Sara deal with emotional turmoil too.

Courtesy of Image Comics

Meanwhile, back at the Interdimensional Institute for Marital Restoration, Grant has issues of his own to deal with. He finally learns who the red-haired woman is. (Reader, I’m purposely not telling you, so as not to spoil the issue.) Oh yeah, he also learns that he rejected being loved in general, rather than just rejecting a single person. He’s lying on a couch as he learns this, and a single tear rolls down his cheek. Sure, it’s a psychoanalysis cliche but it works here.

BLACK SCIENCE #35: Final Thoughts

Courtesy of Image Comics

Overall, Remender and Scaler’s portrayal of Sara in this issue made me realize two things. First, the comic shows just how well they understand and can depict human psychology, including attachment theory.  Second, the quality of the panels drives home to me just how well Remender, Scaler, and colorist Moreno Dinisio work together. For example, take Sara’s reaction to the woman’s big reveal of why Grant was such a bad husband. “He doesn’t trust any authority to protect him, so he controls. He was abandoned, so he abandons,” the woman says. Sara’s answer: “Thank you, but I’m familiar with the damage of Grant McKay.” We’re not talking Oprah-level revelations here. Still, Sara’s response, when combined with the close-up on her distraught face, is really powerful.

That said, I could see some readers not liking this issue. BLACK SCIENCE #35 isn’t very action-driven; it’s more about understanding the characters. If you’ve been reading this series a while and want to know more about Grant and Sara, this issue is for you. Additionally, it could also be a nice stand-alone issue for those who like comics dealing with character motivation. If you want action for action’s sake, this is not the issue for you.

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