- Title: FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics Volume 1: The Paradigm Shift
- Writer: Simon Oliver
- Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
- Colorist: Rico Renzi
- Cover Artist: Nathan Fox
- Publisher: DC Comics (Vertigo)
- Release Date: February 2014
- Includes: Issues 1 – 7
Imagine calling 911 and the operator asks you for the nature of your emergency … fire, ambulance, police or physics? Maybe your local gravitational field is collapsing or another dimension is overwriting your own or maybe it is a simple case of time moving at different paces in the kitchen and the living room. Any of those would be reason enough to call in the FPB: Federal Bureau of Physics. The FBP is a federally funded organization tasked with assessing and repairing the fabric of space and time when the basic laws of physics decide to take a left turn. I see them as a counterpart to the Ghostbusters dealing with science emergencies rather than supernatural ones although in the world of quantum mechanics, relativity and string theory the difference between physics and the supernatural often seems a bit fuzzy. If you are a member of the FPB, you need to remember that the “impossible is always possible”.
Our primary protagonist is Agent Adam Hardy. Adam is funny, brave, adventurous and a hit with the ladies. While excellent at his job, Adam sometimes bucks authority, but is always ready to do what needs to be done. Like all of the agents, Adam is more than he seems to be, with a history of the impossible that goes back a generation. While endeavoring to restore local physics to working order, our hero is also trying to track down what happened to his father, a professor of physics last seen pursuing a quantum tornado. Adam is teamed up with a couple of different partners during this volume and his team supervisor goes by the name Cicero; his look seems to borrow more than a little from Dr. Egon Spengler of the aforementioned Ghostbusters if you ask me. Cicero can be a bit hard-nosed but is competent and seems to want to do right by his team.
This first volume mainly introduces us to our cast and the nature of the world in which they live. A nice job is done of setting up some of the background information and giving us story lines to anticipate including more about Adam’s father and the growing role of private sector competition to the FBP. Agents will have to be vigilant against challenges both from the world of physics as well as from the worlds of business, politics and crime and sometimes all three put together.
I personally enjoyed the artwork by Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi. Occasionally Rodriguez’s work doesn’t seem quite finished with backgrounds simply as silhouettes or pale hues beyond the foreground characters but I found the art to generally serve the story. The colors vary greatly with purple and lime green often next to more subtle shades, although this leads to one strange thing. When reading the notes in the back of this volume, Renzi comments that one of the guiding phrases for colors was “no earth tones” which seemed odd given that the example page right above that statement seems filled with browns and tans. My one real criticism of the story telling is that I sometimes found it difficult to tell the difference between flashbacks (which were frequent) and the present. I would have like to have seen a stronger and more consistent contrast between the timelines.
To get a feel for what reading this book is like, flip through the covers of the book done by Nathan Fox. Each of them explode with colors rarely seen in nature and they promise us a world where the extraordinary is becoming commonplace. Many feature the images of characters that seemed as shocked by their circumstances as are we. When the laws of physics break down, even the agents of FBP can’t be totally prepared.
As a teacher of physics, I often help my student understand the subject by telling them what would happen if the laws of physics were different than what they are. The results of such breakdowns are sometimes cool but often unsettling. I am very glad to say that volume 1 of FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics is both cool and unsettling side by side and I mean that as a high compliment.