Last time on Sliders Black Science…… Grant McKay and an okay bunch of scientists have invented a device that lets them travel between parallel universes. The idea is that they can visit these alternative worlds and get everything mankind need, fuel, food, cures for every major disease. As to be expected however things do not go well and the team and Grant’s children are thrown through the dimensional barrier with no way of getting home. They visit strange alternative worlds trying to clobber together a repair for the device and stay alive while fighting techno-mage alien style native Americans and fish ladies with boobs. Unfortunately by the time we start book two not much of the team remains including Grant McKay himself.
Oh yeah spoiler for Black Science vol 1
Anyway we begin with the team not dealing with all the stuff that went down last issue because they have been captured by weird telepathic cockroaches acting out their D&D session. Unfortunately they rolled chaotic evil so they’re going to eat them, or sacrifice them to their gods it isn’t really made that clear. Not that I guess it matters that much. Carried through like the star heroes they are I can only guess that they too were tricked by a piece of meat on a stick.
Fortunately Kadir the back stabbing “suit” of the first issue rolled well on his stealth check, and using the Shaman they essentially kidnapped last volume, is able to sneak in Bousshh style in his dlc exclusive armour, available only for pre-order. Here he mounts a daring escape which ends up with the kids falling over a cliff and the party left to wait it out till the timer says they can slide jump. This is where the volume begins with the children not dead as feared but instead given some time in the spot light away from the adults and Kadir left in defacto lead of the group and questioning himself and his motives better than anyone else could. There are no flashbacks to before the first leap in this volume and that helps to keep the momentum going after all the events of last time. There were worries, especially from myself that the comic would suffer after killing off some of the better more well-rounded characters and it seems that they were only thus because they got the focus last time. Now that others are moving to the forefront they are coming along nicely. Kadir is given some motivation for sabotaging the pillar without talking us through it step by step. Indeed even the Shaman, who from my recollection of the first volume, was a non-entity is given a back story and explored a little bit this time around though his own tale seemed more the set up the universe, multi-verse, that we will be exploring. It seem his own world had contact with a pillar like device some time ago which lead to the massive war we saw. Their symbol is also back, once more as a religious icon as the telepathic cockroaches call it a gift from their god. Grant is also back, in more than one form.
For those who will recall this is not the first alternative Gran Mckay we have seen and there is a good chance it will not the be the last. Each time we see him his claim that the more time the children spend with the group the more danger they are in seems more real and yet you have to love a character who will watch his children die, scour the multiverse for other such groups and watch them loose children also, conclude that they should not be out here away from home and that he is the only man who can see them safe, even if this brings him up against other Grants of the same opinion. How easy would their lives be if all the Grants just got along, admit they are all screw-ups and that they might have a better chance if they worked together? I don’t think we are in danger of finding out.
Not only is there not as much flashbacks this time but there is a considerable less amount of jumping with the group on one world and the viewer getting a glimpse of another which in keeping with the pulp like nature of the book looks straight out of Indiana Jones.
While last time I feel like the story took the lead it is the art this time that takes front and centre this time and not due to the story being lacking. With the world and art looking like you have stepped beyond the borders of a psychedelic rock cover from the sixties each of the pages draws you in, especially the landscape work on show. Matteo Scalera takes point again with the some help, most notable in the pulp fiction style covers given to every issue meaning you keep half expecting some scantily clad damsel wrapped around some hunky heroes leg while he brandishes his laser gun and scouts out the world for evil robots inside his fish bowl helmet.
The characters left are nicely fleshed out, though like Game of Thrones you are no longer certain that any of them will make it to the end and though the story does not reveal anything more to the mysteries behind the whole thing you don’t feel like you have been treading water. Though I will say that the final line has never sounded epic before and unfortunately still hasn’t