Infinite Vacation #1 Review

Image Comics is on a roll lately, with some stand out new series that have flown off shelves and garnered much interest even before their release. Of their recent string of successes, I’ve only read Chew #1 but liked it, it did take me a while to warm up to the charms of Skullkickers, 27 was an interesting idea but not enough of one to keep me coming back, and Who Is Jake Ellis? was a clear fave. Infinite Vacation from Nick Spencer (writer of another popular Image series Morning Glories) and artist Christian Ward (Olympus) is the latest title to generate buzz.

It’s apparent why that would be the case, with its central concept being so attractive. The notion of alternate universes has been a popular one in sci-fi and comics for a long time, and to take that idea and put it in the hands of today’s techno loving populace is a grand one. For the most part, it works here.

Basically, red headed Mark makes the most of this possibility, like 97% of the population, to buy and sell alternate versions of their own lives. After recounting a few horror stories where his other lives didn’t end up like he’d hoped, Mark remarks that whatever life he chooses, it always ends the same, with a dead-end job, failed relationship and boredom. As an everyman hoping for more from life and craving it like an obsessive, Mark’s a good central character, though in this first issue he primarily serves as the personification of exposition. It’s understandable that Spencer would want to make the protagonist’s life relatable, but so far he seems more like an alt-universe junkie than a well rounded, sympathetic figure.

Early in this issue there’s a 4 page sequence using photographs that shows a sleazy salesman pitching the Infinite Vacation application. It looks good and is a novel visual idea, but it’s in a comic that is already filled with such, thanks to Ward’s dazzling art, which renders this photo explanation unnecessary.

Those who’ve read Olympus, or checked out Ward’s site know what he’s capable of and his work stands out in a welcome way. This is the kind of trippy story filled with potential that allows an artist of Ward’s loose layouts and experimentation with design to take this comic and make it even better, in much the same way J.H Williams III and Jonathan Hickman (the artist) do.

The concept of all the alternate Marks slowly dying and “our” Mark’s investigation into why makes what could’ve been a flat, easily throw-away idea into something well rounded and filled with intrigue. Ideas such as other Marks being his own therapist and technical support consultant are just awesome, as is one scene where Mark is bidding on a world in which a lovely lady at a cafe stays a little longer for a chat. It’s a shame the script and the lettering is out of synch on the exact price though, but that’s a minor detail.

In what could well be the deserved next big thing, Infinite Vacation is off to a pretty good start, but to keep the momentum, deeper issues about the interaction between technology, fate and responsibility will have to be addressed.

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