“FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics” #3 by Simon Oliver, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi is smart, cool and totally fun. Blending the past, the present and an alternate bubble-verse into one cohesive tapestry, the mysteries of “FBP” are a joy to watch unfold.
Oliver’s story — one in which our main character Adam lives in a world of physics taking on a more active (and aggressive) part of daily life, to the point that something called the “FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics” exists — is a bit unconventional (even ignoring all the physics explanations) but that may be the best thing about it. This book feels different than any other book I’m reading, even though it has its roots in an “agency procedural.” The story is shrouded in intrigue with complications and deceptions piling on top of one another quickly. Most notably, Oliver has raised the stakes beautifully with our characters facing both tough odds and a neck-breaking race against time.
Although there are a lot of things unexplained at this point, Oliver’s writing does not just lay on the “Oh my God!” moments and cliffhangers, instead he actively works to solve the mystery as we go, and on multiple fronts, so there’s a natural feeling to the story. That flow helps put a reader’s mind at ease that the series won’t end up with a series of convenient devices that don’t add up to an organic and satisfying conclusion. Instead, this all feels well constructed from page one. Sometimes the physics, whether realistic and based on actual science or not (I would have no idea), are enough to make any non-science brain swim, but so long as you stay focused, you are rewarded in kind with great (smart) storytelling.
Robbi Rodriguez art with Rico Renzi on colors, are a great kinetic team for this book. Renzi, especially, does a fantastic job of shifting the color palette between Adam’s memories, Adam’s present in our reality, and Adam’s time in the bubble. Though Rodriguez’s loose and kinetic style is a good fit for this book, and I really enjoy the character and world design overall, this issue feels a bit rushed and thin compared to the first two. It’s especially noticeable in that readers were prepped to expect something truly fantastic inside the bubble, but it doesn’t happen in this issue. The actions themselves — a bullet going on a crazy twirling non-straight path; a character getting crunched by a car, but emerging unharmed; and a jump off a building that shreds the fabric of reality — are all very cool and with the exception of the building jump are visually realized in awesome ways. However, the world around those actions is just not as fleshed out and spectacular as I was expecting, and worse, a bit thin compared to the initial look we got in issue #2. The storytelling is still strong and the artwork more than covers the duties of delivering a competent tale, but given the wild unbridled creativity we’d already seen in the first two issues, I confess I expected more.
Three issues in, “Federal Bureau of Physics” is shaping up to be a great book in Vertigo’s library. Next to “The Wake,” this is the most fun, creative and smartly challenging book of Vertigo’s new line. Hopefully, it’s a sign of even more great things to come for the imprint.