In this new column, I feature comic book reviews written by my students at Oxford College of Emory University. Oxford College is a small liberal arts school just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I challenge students to read and interpret comics because I believe sequential art and visual literacy are essential parts of education at any level (see my Manifesto!). I’ll be posting the best of my students’ reviews in this column. Today, I am proud to present a review by Claire Ofotokun.

Claire is a freshman and is pursuing a double major in dance and business.  She lives in Atlanta and particularly enjoys Atlanta’s warm weather and the diversity of cultures, music, and art.  Dance and the arts have been a large part of her life, and she has a special interest in creating movement because it allows her to express her thoughts in a way speaking and writing cannot. In the future, Claire hopes to instill an appreciation for the arts in the people around her and possibly inspire others to start their own creations to express themselves.

BLACK SCIENCE VOL 1Science fiction comic Black Science Vol. 1, written by Rick Remender and drawn by Matteo Scalera, involves an unlikely and ambitious team that gets trapped in the infinite dimensions of the multiverse. The scientists on the mission sought to better humankind, but short on time, supplies, and having no idea what the hell is going on, their mission quickly becomes a game of survival. Due to the thrills, rich character development, and the ongoing discussion of the ‘what ifs’ in life, Black Science is an exciting comic and one I recommend.

Scientist Grant McKay creates a pillar that transports his team and kids into the multiverse. While everything seems to be running smoothly, out of nowhere someone sabotages the pillar! They are now forced to transport from dimension to dimension and they have no control over how long they stay or which universe they are transported to. Unfortunately, the team is now unable to return home until repairs are made on the pillar, but betrayals, space monsters, and war delay the quest to fix it. Also, Grant McKay struggles to juggle his many responsibilities, including protecting his kids and repairing the pillar, all while bettering mankind. Once so sure about his career and life, Grant now wishes he had listened to his wife Sara about leaving black science alone.

In Black Science, author Rick Remender develops rich characters by entering the minds of several of them, which allows Remender to shows the nature of each character through how they react to the chaos, war, and violence. In one of my favorite scenes, we get a glimpse inside the mind of Ward, the military-trained protector, and we get to see what makes him tick. In the midst of chaos, war, and violence, Ward selflessly put others before himself by fighting to save others lives in the unknown universes. How can one risk his life for the good of the group so selflessly, yet others run from fear only thinking of themselves? On the other hand, Kadir, the funder of the mission, causes delays to and drama for the team due to his own self-interest.

Black Science dives into the relatable ‘what ifs’ of life’s many opportunities. Grant McKay wonders if he could have possibly avoided the mess that he put his family and team in. This is shown through Grant’s struggle between his passion for science and his love for his family. As he and his team travel through the dimensions fighting battles and struggling to survive, he ponders over what his life would be like in a different dimension — a place where a different set of decisions ended in a life that is perhaps better or worse than the one he has today. While he loves black science, he regrets dragging his family into his dangerous invention. Would his life be better if he had made different decisions in his life? Through his own reflection and some unexpected visits, Grant gets a glimpse of the answer to this question. The topic of ‘what ifs’ is relatable to real life, and this comic asks readers to wonder how their lives would change if they had made different choices in the past.

The art in this comic is exceptional: When you look at the pages of Black Science there is a sense of movement that is necessary in capturing the chaos and violence in the comic. Not only in a single panel, but also across the page Scalera manipulates the page art to have the reader transported to a new galaxy. Scalera’s achieves an almost 3D effect that helps the reader comprehend the violence, fast pace, and the large scale of the dimensions in the comic. Also, the use of bright contrasting colors adds to the drama of the comic and emphasizes the graphic images of violence. Additionally, the faces of the characters have detail and focus on facial expression, which allow the reader to better understand the characters and story.

 Black Science is an enjoyable read because the drama and thrills never end. Even though the overall story is a thrilling one, Rick Remender never forgets to focus on the characters and the drama between them. Also, the art and the writing complement each other; they are both equally thrilling and dramatic. Although at first I thought the plot of a team becoming lost within multiverse to be slightly unoriginal, I still think the comic is good enough to earn four out of five stars because of Rick Remender’s rich devolvement of unique characters and Matteo Scalera’s ability to truly captured the fast pace and deep complexity of a multiverse. Overall, the action and suspense of Black Science vol. 1 leave you wanting to read the whole comic in one sitting.

~Claire Ofotokun


  • Brad Hawley

    BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia.