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FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics: “The Paradigm Shift” (Vertigo, 2013; #1-7)

Backlogger Fact: I love weird science stories. So let’s talk about one.

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics is, on its surface, exactly what it sounds like: a comic about a government-sanctioned organization that investigates breakdowns in the laws of physics. That could mean localized, weakened gravity; or bubble universes that pop up on Earth’s surface; or any number of other problems that should be impossible. On top of these procedural elements, Oliver builds out mysteries involving the FBP Agents who form the book’s primary cast.

As far as the personal mysteries go, the book’s primary focus is on Agent Adam Hardy, whose father went missing while chasing down one of these phenomena. Other have their own respective problems that crop up as this arc unfolds, although Hardy’s family history remains the most interesting of the characters’ individual through-lines. And even in his case, I found myself impatient to return to the team’s investigations whenever the book’s focus shifted to beginning to answer his questions about his father. That’s not to say that these individual plots aren’t interesting; I’m simply more engaged in the FBP side of things.

Where this book shines is its art. Rodriguez and Renzi’s work here is similar to their art in Spider-Gwen. FBP gives them more room to play with style, though. When the laws of physics start to weaken, the team changes things up; my favorite example of this is the BubbleVerse that appears. Inside this tenuous, unstable world, line-work is lightly inked (or left uninked), leaving real-world characters more defined. It’s a detail that doesn’t have to be there, but one that thematically fits what is happening in the book.

If you share my fondness for weird science books, you’ll probably find something to like in FBP. It has most of the moving parts that tend to come with these sorts of stories.  While nothing in its first volume will blow your mind, those beats are well executed and interesting here. The ways in which the art reinforces what is happening in the script indicate that even though physics is breaking down within the world of the book, its creators know the rules by which that happens—and that is important in this kind of story. I did have some minor issues with the pacing of individual characters’ stories in the middle of everything else, but that may be a function of personal preference.

Collected in

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics, Vol. 1: The Paradigm Shift (#1-7)


Writer: Simon Oliver | Artist: Robbi Rodriguez | Colorist: Rico Renzi | Letterers: Steve Wands, Jared K. Fletcher | Cover Artist: Nathan Fletcher


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