Casual Comic Review – Collider #1
Man… I don’t even know where to start with this one. I saw a post on the AV Club about DC’s reinvigoration of the “Vertigo” “imprint”. (“Imprint”? Really?) I thought I would check it out. Get in on the ground floor, as it were. So, how did they do?
Well, it’s an interesting title. The art blew me away. But, from the perspective of a casual comics fan, I have to give this title an F. Short for “WTF”? As in, you have got to be kidding me, right?
Oliver Sava’s review of this title on the AV Club site made me extremely interested to dive back into the world of Vertigo. He really seemed to like the first issue, so I bit on “Collider”.
I was willing to give “Collider” a huge break. The Vertigo titles were so much more interesting than the standard DC fare back in the day when I was finishing my MBA – slamming coffee at Borders, plowing through assignments, and – on occasion – taking a break to read trade paperbacks.
To give you some perspective, here’s my recollections on the Vertigo titles I recall:
- Sandman – Oh, so good. I referenced one of the issues in an undergraduate, liberal arts course
- Fables – I like it. There are super-fans of the title. I don’t get that, but it is good.
- 100 Bullets – I read all the trades and still feel like I have no clue what happened. Two (or more) shadowy organizations, but a lot of the dudes look the same. If it’s possible to literally “kill” time, there are broken piles of minutes and hours strewn on the battlefield of “Keep-my-interest-istad”.
- Y: The Last Man – Oooh. Wonderful from beginning to the bitter end. I know that people have a love/hate relationship with many TV series (L O S T and Battlestar Galactica – just to name two). People had the same reaction to the end of this series. Powerful stuff.
- Preacher – Really wild. Immaturity dressed up with important, if half-baked, ideas. But fun.
Back to “Collider”. It’s got an intriguing premise. The basic laws of physics that govern the universe are starting to go a bit sideways. There’s a quote that’s vital to understanding the universe being established in “Collider”. I mean, it must be since they have two different characters say it. “Given the right conditions, the impossible’s always possible.”
A world where emergency operators answer the phones by asking whether the nature of the emergency is “fire, ambulance, police, or physics” is bursting with story possibilities. So why no casual love for “Collider”?
For a first issue, it’s really not that interesting. It reminds me of the first act of “Buckaroo Banzai”.
There’s a lot of talking, but not a lot of doing. Oliver hasn’t yet established any “stakes”. In a first issue, it’s a good idea to jump into the middle of some action. Give the reader a chance to understand the rules of the universe and the gravity of the situation.
There’s an old literary technique called “in media res” – starting the story in the middle of some heroic or nefarious exploits and then going back to establish character. It’s been around since the time of Homer because it works.
To compare “Collider” to a comic I recently fell for, “Hawkeye”, let’s compare the first page of each.
“Collider” – A scientist talks into a video camera explaining that the laws of physics are changing.
“Hawkeye” – Hawkeye is falling off a building while fighting an unnamed and unseen foe. He crashes into the ground and ends up in the hospital.
And when we first witness a disruption in physics, it’s a temporary gravity abnormality. The high stakes in play? Teenagers goofing off and floating into the air. If the characters who live in this universe don’t think the gravity anomalies are much more serious than monkey bars, why would the reader?
Finally, at the end of issue 1, they set up another escalation of the phenomenon, but why? Why not start with that?
Ugh. I want to like this title so much. It seems like it’s got the potential to be really good someday. But that’s the problem for casual comics fans. We don’t have time to pick up a first issue, hope it gets better, and stick with it for a while. The first issue has to be hands-down the best issue.
I should note that the art is absolutely stunning, though. Bright bold colors really make the vortex and other physics alterations pop off the page. This is an absolutely gorgeous book. Which makes it even more of a shame that the story in the first issue wasn’t as grab-you-by-the-shirt-collar as the artwork. Because that would have been something.
Ultimately, the inability to muster much more tension than a Senate scene from the Star Wars prequels means that this one’s going to wind up in the back of a longbox, never joined by the rest of the series. And that’s too bad.
Also, I just now found out that they’re changing the name of the series to “FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics” starting with issue #2.
Better idea – restart the series numbering at 1 as well, and just jump into the action already.
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