Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: Collider #1

Gravity Falls
A hot-to-motivate-Tom-Landry-autographed-hat-wearing Homer Simpson once said: ''the Lord gave us the atoms, and it's up to us to make 'em dance.'' Like the untapped energy at the atomic level, Collider holds vast promise, but for its debut it treads lightly, a sort of safety dance. The stock structure of the narrative moves like two timid teenagers who feel they need to 'leave room for the Holy Spirit' as they slow dance at a Catholic high-school semi-formal. Collider needs to twerk, you know, like Ginger Rogers, backwards and in heels.

The world of Collider has a crack scenario: the building blocks of the universe are breaking, gravity is wonky and quantum tornados have become a thing -- possible impossibilities. It's an imaginative riff on apocalyptic-fiction, not an end of the world or post-something or other, instead call it a matter (sorry) of inconvenience and yet another way to fuck up your commute.   

A gift like the line ''… and the nature of your emergency … fire, ambulance, police … or physics'' winks at Simon Oliver's feistiness, talent and intelligence. Those lines are delivered in two panels by a blond receptionist wearing a shade of lipstick that dials in somewhere on the color wheel around electric magenta. Oliver brings the brains, but it's the brawn of colorist Rico Renzi and artist Robbi Rodriguez who own Collider.

It's got to be a kick to imagine the gullet of a rapidly collapsing
gravity field and a whole other kind of stone groove to make it live. Rodriguez's pencils have a shade of fellow Vertigo-ian Sean Murphy as well as the slinky elastic-fantastic-ness of Filipe Andrade. When singular pencils and inks meet the unstoppable force of color it tracks with sea salt crystals on caramel truffles. Renzi uses swirls of color as thematic elements throughout to play with the narrative's ideas about the physical manifestations of vortexes, spirals and gyres. Automobile headlights, the dust kicked up from squealing tires and the tally light on a video camera all spin with innate energy.

Renzi reckons the fabric of space-time in a panoply of Barbie pinks and purples and when that stuff starts to tear and up is down and down is up Renzi slashes at Rodriquez's fine lines with wide brushstrokes of color to intensify the action and give it dimension. Like Dave Stewart and Jordie Bellaire, Renzi is the kind of colorist who makes the world of a comic book a real living thing.
Each creative works in concert on Collider to craft the perfect Barth-ian fusion of text and image; however, like the world they concoct something is off. As one of the first (original) offerings in the post-Berger Vertigo era, Collider carries a lot of anticipation (for good or for ill) about what's next for this well-loved and well-regarded line of boutique comics. The gravity of creator-owned work continues to intensify in the marketplace, which leaves publishers like Vertigo, where exactly? Oliver writes in his obligatory closing comments: ''So this is Collider, a book we could only do at Vertigo …'' Really? Is The Massive a book that could only exist at Dark Horse? How about Storm Dogs or Prophet are they solely the purview of Image?

Vertigo's new one-word marketing campaign/strategy is 'Defy.' Great, I'm in (especially at $2.99). So why is such a smart idea like Collider told in the rote manner of a mediocre sci-fi TV serial? With such a screwy set of ideas, editors Sara Miller and Mark Doyle should have pushed the series creators (Oliver and Rodriquez) to defy timeworn narrative conventions like the last minute reveal of the scheming mustachioed white guy, the compromised team member and the prologue with the dedicated scientist and well-meaning but (apparently absentee) dad of the main character. Defy. Defy. Defy.

With the marketing clout of papa-DC behind them, Vertigo has the juice to storm (take back?) the creator-owned castle. Instead of advice from everyman Homer Simpson, perhaps the kingmakers and idea-hounds in service to Vertigo should pull a prankster pose and head in a Kesey-ist direction, further. Now who's playing it safe with dated bromides?   

Collider shows killer potential, which for a comic about physics makes sense, but the taut bowstring is not the bullseye. Oliver and Rodriguez have a quantum 'tiger by the tail' and the talent to let this top spin and spin and spin. Fingers crossed Collider speeds past the theoretical and becomes physical, a true original it has the ability to be in every (un)conceivable way.


  1. I'm all for the notion of "Defy. Defy. Defy." but only if done deftly. Time will tell how long Time Warner will be able to keep from further fucking up success. It's all a matter of Time.

    1. Dear Elkin,

      So cynical, my friend. Here's another bromide for you: 'creator-owned' is supposed to change all that corporate interest stuff, profits?!? this is comics.