Review: FBP – Federal Bureau of Physics Vol. 1 – The Paradigm Shift / Author: Simon Oliver / Artist: Robbi Rodriguez / Publisher: Vertigo / Release Date: March 25th
Imagine a world in which the laws of physics regularly stopped working. A place where you could be walking down the street one minute and then suddenly find yourself hurtling toward the sky because you’d walked into an area where gravity had ceased to function. Or you lost weeks of your life due to a malfunction with time. This is the premise of the series FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics and the first book, The Paradigm Shift, introduces a team of government-funded agents whose job it is to fix things as best they can. When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, you call these plucky guys and gals.
As you might expect, this is a blend of police procedural drama and the weird. This book lays the groundwork for a deeper and complex conspiracy plot – from the first page it’s swiftly apparent that there’s an unexplained reason for all of this wackiness which will be revealed over time. The characters are reasonably interesting; nothing you wouldn’t expect from a show like NCIS or CSI, and the author panders to these expected stereotypes very well. So much so that it does feel like the other shoe will drop at some point. Or maybe not drop – given the nature of this book it’s more likely to turn into a banana.
Robbi Rodriguez’s art is an interesting choice for this book; he has a distinctive and messy sensibility that can often be jarring. On the one hand the characters look pretty bland, it isn’t an art style that does beautiful people at all well and the few female characters look especially dull. However, his work really does pick up when it comes to the weird and bizarre; this is a book where the star of the show is physics gone mad and (quite rightly) the everyday people are less important. The quirky design does add to the piece reasonably well, but it is perhaps not everyone’s taste and can be quite ugly in places.
FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics Vol. 1: The Paradigm Shift is a well written sci-fi thriller which has ‘TV show pitch’ written all over it. If you like your detective shows deeply strange, or you’re just a fan of shows like Fringe then it’s worth a look.