Nick Spencer can't be stopped. Royal Nonesuch reviews the first issue of his new book, INFINITE VACATION!
Credits & Solicit Info:
THE INFINITE VACATION #1, in stores January 12, 2011. Written by NICK SPENCER (MORNING GLORIES) with art and cover by CHRISTIAN WARD (OLYMPUS).
WELCOME TO THE INFINITE VACATION, WHERE CHANGING YOUR LIFE IS ALWAYS JUST A CLICK AWAY!
Mark lives in a world where alternate realities are up for sale, and buying and trading your way through unlimited variations of yourself is as commonplace as checking your email or updating your status. But when other "hims" start dying suddenly and he meets a mysterious girl who wants nothing to do with "life-changing," he'll learn the truth about the universe he stumbles through, and what happens when your vacation turns on you.
AN EPIC HIGH CONCEPT SCI-FI LOVE STORY PERFECT FOR FANS OF ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, (500) DAYS OF SUMMER, AND INCEPTION.
Comic books are often charged with being little more than mere wish fulfillment fantasies, particularly for young males. INFINITE VACATION, the new story by suddenly red-hot writer Nick Spencer, who garnered a sleeper hit at Image in 2010 with MORNING GLORIES, is really no different. In fact, the idea of the transplantation of the self provides the thrust of the story in the world Spencer has created. The high concept is that if you want to live the life of your alternate self, then there's an app for that. For a tidy sum, you can zap yourself into an alternate reality where you're living a life that could just as easily have been yours. The universal desire to travel into a different life is combined with modern meditations on technology and the increasing mediation of our world.
And it covers all the anxieties of this world just as much as it covers the excitement. For all intents and purposes, the protagonist Mark is addicted to the app. He a lot of time and money on purchasing new realities, but he never finds something he feels like he can stick to for an extended length of time. "No matter how many times I move," he laments, "no matter how much I save up to buy my way over to something else, I just can't stop ending up in the same places – dead-end job. Failed relationship. Bored. Alone. Miserable." He can't stop using the app, and he can't get enough of what he wants out of it.
It's not just addiction that's affecting Mark, it's that oft-cited problem that communication technology is making us less able to interact on a personal level. Instead of running after the cute girl in the coffee shop after he fails to strike up a conversation with her before she leaves, he instinctively goes to his mobile device to jump into a quantum reality where the girl stays in her seat. Clicking around on his phone his Mark's default mode of communication.
What's great about INFINITE VACATION #1 is how lived-in the world is. Too often, in a conceptually ambitious project like this, writers don't afford the reader enough time or space to really become grounded in the world of their story before jumping to the plot. Thankfully, Spencer does not fall into that trap. He is able to make the world make sense while at the same time introducing the plot elements that Mark will have to deal with throughout the series (in fact, a lot of the exposition about the app is presented via a fumetti "ad" featuring a model who looks like an unnerving cross between Michael C. Hall and Thomas Hayden Church). It's just a well-structured comic book, which makes the cliffhanger twist ending very effective.
Also effective is Christian Ward's artwork. Ward doesn't illustrate the science fiction of the story with chrome or wires, but with an ethereal watercolor painterly style complete with abstractions and symbolism. The art seems to combine the figures and color palette of Joshua Middleton with the layout and designs of David Mack. It leads to a lovely and unique look that brings so much character to the story.
INFINITE VACATION #1 is full of great ideas (without being overly dense) and tight plotting, and could lead to one of the most exciting and engaging comic book stories of the year. It's already one of the best first-issues in quite some time. A lot of the formal mishaps that Spencer's writing suffered from in MORNING GLORIES #1 just don't appear in this issue. It's a much more successful outing from Spencer, and could lead to something really special.
Review by: Royal Nonesuch