If nothing else (and I admit that’s selling it short), the first volume of “Black Science” had an unexpected and game-changing twist at its end. After jumping through several words with his friends, family, and co-workers, brilliant scientist Grant McKay met his end crushed under rubble. In his final moments, he begged Kadir -- his boss, and the man who sabotaged the Pillar that has everyone leaping through the Eververse -- to look after everyone now that he was gone. So what was originally a reasonably entertaining take on “Sliders” suddenly morphed into a bastard’s redemption story. I thought it was brilliant and the volume almost made my best-of list last year based on that twist alone. Regrettably, Kadir’s ongoing redemption isn’t the primary concern here. He gets to shine early on in a dramatic rescue, but then subplots about the McKay kids being split off from the group and presumed dead and Grants from other universes start to cloud the title’s focus.
Admittedly, writer Rick Remender does broaden the title’s scope in interesting ways with these subplots. We find out that there are lots of Grants, his friends, and family strewn throughout the universe, as well as Kadirs and worst of all, Blokks. He’s Kadir’s boss and the guy who bankrolled the development of the Pillar in a great many universes it would appear. The presence of all these different character variations throughout the universes lets you know that the story is much bigger than waiting to see if the characters we’ve been following make it home. Remender and artist Matteo Scalera do an excellent job of keeping the action moving at a breakneck pace in several bravura action sequences -- like the Kadir-led escape near the beginning -- that are really quite impressive to behold. It’s a good thing that the story is moving at such a pace, because if it slowed down I’d probably start to dwell more on how the narrative is basically a collection of really bad things happening to our protagonists. Or rather, the reason I stopped reading Remender’s “Fear Agent.” I’m definitely not at that point yet with this series, but seeing more of Kadir and his redemption would be nice.