This week, my usual Iconographies column was published over at PopMatters, this time talking about FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics and how nothing ever quite stabilizes or settles down in it. That's been a fun and peculiar series, and Robbi Rodriguez's art is phenomenal. My latest "1987 And All That" post always went up at The Chemical Box, discussing Mephisto Vs., a four-issue mini-series about Mephisto fighting, one after the other, the Fantastic Four, X-Factor, the X-Men, and the Avengers. It's a hyper-formulaic gimmick comic, but John Buscema drew it and Mephisto had an entertaining personality, basically a spoiled child but with near-endless magical power, so overall I had a good time reading it. I'll probably never repeat the experience, but I don't regret it, which is more than I can say than some things I've read.
Something I Failed to Mention
My focus during the FBP piece was the book's unpredictability, so I didn't get around to talking about the other thing I love about it (aside from Rodriguez's work, as I mentioned above). In a very understated, subtly-played way, FBP is a crime procedural, and crime procedurals are my bread and butter. Because the problems the FBP handles are all cases of freak physics, the series looks on the surface like more of a string of sci-fi disaster stories. But all of the incidents so far have also involved some amount of criminal human interference or manipulation, making them crimes to be solved as well as scientific mysteries. Of course, the methods that the FBP uses to deal with these human problems, which are technically outside of their jurisdiction, are unusual and ethically/morally questionable. That's part of why it takes a while to see FBP as a crime procedural at all, and it's also what sets it apart from the many, many other such series that already exist in comics, books, TV, and probably other places of which I'm not even aware. Nevertheless, I count it among them, a unique example, and a story that has a lot to offer outside the crime-fighting elements, but that appeals to me through those elements as well.