Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Review: Collider #1 - What Goes Up...

Oh man, you have got to read this comic!

This review has been a long time coming. A long time. I was supposed to pick this issue up weeks ago at my local shop and, well, life and stuff got in the way. So it just sat there waiting for me while I ran around doing other things. Eventually I went and paid for it, sat down this morning with a cup of fresh coffee and opened it for the first time. And it blew me away.

The first thing you see, obviously, is the cover. Nathan Fox's cover, to be precise. A punchy, tricolour image that screams "screenprint" at me every time I look at it. It has the same unnerving vibrancy as a CMYK print in it's beginning stages, when you know that something more manageable to the human eye is going to come out of this but right now all you've got to work is pure magenta and yellow bursting off the paper. It is, in other words, the perfect cover for a comic about the disintegrating fabric of the universe.

I'd read another review of this issue (and I'd link to it, but I cannot for the life of me recall where it was) that said one of the beautiful things about Fox's cover was the way it dovetailed with the style of Robbi Rodriguez's interior art. I agree. I can't even count the times I've pulled something off the shelf because it has a Alex Ross cover on it, and then discarded it disgustedly because the interior art is nowhere near as pretty. All of this book is pretty. Rodriguez sketchy, sometimes ragged ink work lends an energy to each and every panel. His characters are characters. His colourist is a genius; Rico Renzi's colour scheme is understated in all the right places, and obnoxiously neon in all the places where you need to believe the universe is tearing itself to pieces. Swirling pinks and purples, yellow lettering, a stark and stable blue sky. I can't say it enough. This is a gorgeous comic.

Now, something I've always appreciated about the stuff that Vertigo publishes: no punches are pulled. Those who know the history of the Vertigo imprint know that it was created to handle the mature content being written by the writers of the 1980s "British Invasion". They published comics where you could leave the swearing in and not flinch at a sex scene. In my experience as a reader, most of what I've encountered from Vertigo has benefited from that freedom. It's been more honest. In the case of Collider it lends a humanity to Simon Oliver's writing. It never really occurred to me as I read that these characters, the blue-collar "welders" and the socially inept academic types, the high-school principal and the truck driver stuck in rush-hour, weren't just people. They talk like people I know, dropping the occasional F-bomb and panicking when appropriate. That might be the best thing about this comic: this beautiful synthesis of Oliver's down-to-earth writing and Rodriguez's energy-filled line quality has successfully created a world full of real people.

I could write more. But I just jumped over to Facebook where it appears that Nathan Fox just won Cover of the Week on this other comics blog, and really that says the rest of what I might have to say. This comic is getting attention. It's catching eyes on the shelf, and imaginations when it gets pulled off the shelf and opened. It's like a gravitational vortex of creativity that sucks you in and makes you live in it, in a world where you can call 911 and get the response "...and the nature of your emergency...fire, ambulance, police...physics?". And was that comment on privatized fire departments a sly nod to HBO's The Newsroom? Could we actually be this lucky, and have such a smart, cynical, human comic in our hands? I sincerely hope so. So while my bank account may vehemently disagree with me, I cannot wait to pick up Collider #2 and keep living in Simon Oliver's world.

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