Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez put the world’s misbehaving physics in the background in “Federal Bureau of Physics” #5, downshifting from the chaotic events of the Bubbleverse arc that concluded last issue and delving into the life of FBP agent and series protagonist Adam Hardy. While this issue is a bit of a breather, Oliver wastes no time starting to construct future storylines and even introduces a couple of new characters.
First, though, Oliver explores the past, most notably the days of Hardy’s now-departed father during his time as a very different kind of tornado chaser, dropping a hint that his dad just might not be as dead as Hardy believes him to be. The flashback also postulates a possible high-level cause for all of the time reversals, gravity failures and other seemingly impossible occurrences that have dotted the planet for the past few decades. As he has done in past issues, Oliver trickles out the nature of all the crazy and enticing goings-on, knowing full well that his fascinating concept has almost limitless possibilities. The single strange event shown in this issue isn’t even fully explained, but nothing in the story suffers for it because Oliver lays out plenty of other intrigue that makes this a hard comic not to look forward to.
Oliver branches away from the scientific aspect of the series to not only look the personal implications on characters like Hardy, but the social implications as well. Hardy happens upon the proverbial travelling insurance salesman, but he’s hawking coverage for the kinds of catastrophes that were literally impossible many years ago. Oliver keeps the ostensibly crazy notion grounded by referencing parallels to the current and troubled U.S. national healthcare rollout, and also throws in a bit of a puzzling mystery that presumably and hopefully will be addressed in coming issues.
Rodriguez’ art has a dirty, gritty air about it that plays well with the desert and other remote locals featured in this issue, and the characters who have experienced one too many scientific impossibilities in their lives. But the so-called quantum tornado looks more like a swarm of killer telephone books more so than any kind of truly threatening scientific anomaly. As the nature of the occurrence has yet to be explained, a little more artistic detail could have at least given some indication. It’s a small shortcoming in a quieter issue like this one, though.
“Federal Bureau of Physics” #5 is an atypically slower issue of the series, but there’s nothing wrong with that because this issue explores but one of a gazillion different ideas, and but a few of the exponentially more ripple effects they can have on every aspect of living. Oliver shows that he can address human drama and interaction as well as undreamed-of scientific abnormalities, so this issue is representative of a series that could go on for as long as the creators want it to.