Thursday, 1 August 2013

New Beginnings - FBP Federal Bureau Of Physics (aka Collider)

Editor's note: since this article was written, Vertigo have retitled this comic for legal reasons as FBP Federal Bureau Of Physics. All subsequent issues and graphic novel collections will be released under this new title.

When I hear the word “collider” for some reason my thoughts switch immediately to Switzerland, and couples “Large” and “Hadron” to it as well. Maybe it’s my keen scientific brain - or more likely it’s because it’s an infrequently used word and those three words are normally associated together by today’s media.

So when I saw this week’s comic for review, yes my mind went to that place as well.

Collider is a new title on DC’s Vertigo label brought to us by Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez. Oliver is a known Vertigo writer having been on The Exterminators (his own brainchild), Gen 13 and as part of the Hellblazer 20th anniversary issues. Rodriguez is not as well known, but has been working for the major publishers such as Marvel, for Fear Itself, and Image.

The story opens some time back in Mexico where an experiment, or scientific monitoring, is going wrong and in a final attempt to leave a message for his wife and son, the professor on screen leaves a formidable and lasting message. Given the right conditions, the impossible’s always possible.

Skipping to present day and a 911 call, everything seems normal until the operator utters “..and the nature of your emergency... Fire, Ambulance, Police... or Physics?”

It was at this point I paid a lot more attention. Physics? The first three I expected entirely, maybe even Coastguard, but what on earth did they mean by Physics as an emergency service? It was explained in the next page as the FBP – the Federal Bureau of Physics – were dispatched to the location.

The Bureau specialises in fixing quantum and temporal anomalies as they appear and this is where we meet our main bulk of characters. As individuals they are fairly archetypal. The main male protagonist is dealing with the death of his father (the Professor in the opening scene) whom he never met, whilst also contending with the fact that someone may have stolen his breakthrough research. There's also his partner Jay, an old school Company Man cut from an even older style of cloth and Cicero Deluca, the new by-the-numbers Special Agent leading the team.

As you would guess they are fairly dysfunctional as a team but seem to work well together. It’s only when welding a quantum tear that gravity begins to drop rapidly and unexpectedly things do change. Jay and Adam - who have worked together and built a rapport - know what should be going on, but Deluca isn’t so sure. As a result Adam is dropped into an open vortex. What this will do to him remains to be seen by the end of this first issue.

To complicate matters further, the greedy hands of politics are getting involved with how these matters are dealt with. It seems corruption transcends everything. A shady deal and a shifty conversation open up the back story to show that there is a lot more going on than meets the eye.

As a story, Oliver’s tale isn’t anything massively new. The FBP is a really nice twist, but even though this is a mature comic it’s only the mild sexual references that make it so. It’s a fairly easy and understandable premise. Rodriguez’s artwork is clear and gentle on the eyes. It’s very much a foreground style with little in the background (if anything) to distract the reader from the story. This isn’t a bad thing as it makes way for a very colourful depiction especially in the quantum frames and images. To a degree this does sometimes give it a Seventies sci-fi feel to it all, but then again that works too.

As a new comic is light, easy to read and importantly fun. I really enjoyed the physics elements which give it an interesting twist, although it may only be short lived like The Exterminators. Worth a look at if you’re after a new title which isn’t overly serious as it's not quite as dark as your normal Vertigo titles.

Matt Puddy thought he found a God particle once, but it was just a raisin.

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