Publisher IMAGE, JANUARY 2011 $3.50
Writer NICK SPENCER
Penciller CHRISTIAN WARD
Infinite Vacation #1 is an odd offering from rising star Nick Spencer. The premise itself is unusual, though not overly so. In this story, parallel universes are commonplace. One can travel between an infinite number of alternate realities simply through the usage of a free downloadable smart phone app. An economy has arisen from this. One buys and sells alternate lives from and to oneself. For instance, if in one parallel universe you are a successful stock trader, at the click of a button and for a fee you can buy your way into that reality until you wish to buy or trade yet another life. The concept is complex but writer Nick Spencer presents it in such a way as to make it very accessible and compelling.
This particular issue deals with Mark feeling blasé with reality trading, his depression and lack of purpose. He handles these concerns by visiting multiple realities hoping to find answers from different versions of himself. He consults a Mark who is a disinterested psychotherapist, a surfer dude and some sort of “en masse” counseling center specifically servicing the many variations of his person. The latter being the infinite vacation’s customer service desk.
(MILD SPOILER AHEAD) In one of the more noteworthy scenes Mark attempts and fails to pick up a cute “deadender” chick – deadenders are the 3% of the world population who do not swap lives for various reasons. The girl aggressively confronts Mark about his reliance on escapism. This is where the themes become more apparent. Over-accessibility, contentment, escape – these things deeply affect how people interact with one another and how we live our lives.
By the story’s end Mark encounters a version of himself who is not friendly but may hold answers as to why he has been dying in multiple realities with inordinate frequency. This event thrusts us forward into the plot. The fact that the book ends with this game-changing scene makes it virtually impossible to know in which direction it’s going. So essentially we were introduced to some interesting concepts but this one issue did not delve as deep into those as I might have expected. I think this story needed two full issues to open the story, simply because the subject matter is so hefty. I am however sufficiently intrigued by the setting and it’s potential. I’m certainly going to pick up Infinite Vacation #2.
The art is reminiscent of late 60’s to early seventies poster art, but more contemporary in execution. Christian Powell uses a combination of digital collage, innovative coloring style to create a vaguely hallucinogenic feel to the book. That’s not to say that the visuals are always full on trippy. When scenes require a more sedate approach the art adjusts to match the tone. In fact one of the scenes is an actual ad for the reality hopping smart phone app. That scene is completely constructed from photographs, as if it were a legitimate promotion contained within the book. There are a few interesting lettering techniques I enjoyed. When there is an outburst in a café, the bystanders have exclamation points over their head. It’s an effective and clever storytelling device. Ultimately, I’d say the art slightly outshines the script in most places.
Honestly, my review probably makes this comic book seem more opaque than it really is. So if you’re looking to try something distinct I suggest picking up Infinite Vacation #1 to see if it’s for you. It probably is.
Writing 7/10 – Art 8/10