“The Paradigm Shift” Part One
Writer: Simon Oliver
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Colors: Rico Renzi
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover: Nathan Fox
A review by Eric Owens
Rules are made to be broken. In the world of Collider, this aphorism extends to the laws of physics. To deal with these occasional breakdowns, the government established the Federal Bureau of Physics and tasked its agents with making the necessary repairs to reality.
The comic focuses on FBP agent Adam Hardy, risk-taker, flirt, and son of a possibly dead or missing physics professor. He’s joined by Jay, his freewheeling partner and veteran agent, and their uptight, book-smart boss, Cicero. In this debut issue, they’re called to the scene of a high school where gravity has failed, much to the delight of some floating seniors.
As that description suggests, the overall tone of the story is pretty light and funny. The students react to getting lassoed by FBP agents just as you would expect, and it’s hard not to chuckle at the idea of calling 9-1-1 and being asked if your problem requires fire, police, or physics. However, there are hints at darker things to come. Jay has a run-in with some shady men. In what may be a connected plot, the bureau is in danger of losing funding in favor of opening things up to the private sector. Whether or not this is meant to be social commentary, it grounds the fantastic elements in a real-world situation.
Rodriguez’s characters have a clay or elastic quality to them. Their limbs and necks are stretched out and their heads are somewhat squished with flattened faces. This was admittedly off-putting for several pages. Once immersed in the rest of the world, however, it’s a logical way to go. Everything seems just a little off-kilter and out of proportion, which goes well with the oddness of the story.
We get a few glimpses of FBP tech, but it’s not enough. Adam’s gravity welding gun and goggles have a sleek sci-fi look. The mobile compression unit is huge, but bland. This could be a result of how compact many of the panels are or it could be a stylistic choice to have the technology look commonplace, but it feels like a missed opportunity to go big. Having said that, things could very well change once the setting presumably changes next issue.
Renzi’s colors perfectly complement Rodriguez’s art. At times it’s not clear where to draw the line between the two at point, especially in the compression unit sequence with waves and swirls of pinks and purples tugging at Adam’s twisting body. This same color scheme appears in the beginning as a quantum tornado builds and is reflected in Fox’s bold cover, which makes the book stand out among the other releases. The rest of the book is also done up in vibrant colors, verging into unnatural greens and oranges at times. Jay’s confrontation with the mysterious man is made all the more ominous in contrast with its heavy use of shadow.
There is one odd bit of coloring. Cicero’s shirt changes color several times during the scene at the school and the following scene at the hospital. It isn’t clear if this is an error or if it’s done to make it stand out against the background or some other artistic reason. In a comic like this, it’s certainly possible that he just happens to have a color changing shirt.
Collider is definitely going in some interesting directions and has the potential to be an entertaining, crazy ride. Hopefully they can find a way to give Rodriguez and Renzi more room to play.
Eric is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @EricDOwens