After only two issues, Nick Spencer’s Infinite Vacation has been much-praised by readers and reviewers alike. I would like to say I didn’t fall prey to all of the hype, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. While I had no interest or knowledge of this series at first, a quick sell-out of the first issue caught my attention, and I decided I needed to know what I was missing. I can tell you now that I’m glad I dove in (even despite having The Go-Go’s “Vacation” stuck in my head now).
Any sci-fi or fantasy geek can tell you about the theory of time-travel and dimension-hopping. Nick Spencer takes these theories and incorporates them together to a level where, through technology (cell phones, of course), ordinary people can “vacation” to an “infinite” number of past, future, and potential lives, provided they have the money to buy and sell whichever life they’re currently living. Our protagonist, Mark, takes this to a bit of an extreme in that he chooses to avoid his actual, “real” life as much as possible by vacationing to as many alternate versions of himself as he can—from being President of the U.S. to being a jailed criminal—and yet, still not finding one that makes him happy or quells his boredom. Unfulfilled no matter what life he lives, Mark is feeling pretty devoid of purpose … until, of course, he meets a girl. It’s always about the girl, isn’t it? The trouble for Mark is that this girl is in his real, present day life, and she wants nothing to do with the technological escapism to which Mark is so addicted.
Things get dicey when, due to his incessant vacationing, Mark accidentally gets mixed up in the case of the murder of one of his alternate selves. Before you know it, there are Marks all over the place, and “our” Mark is forced to go into hiding, lest he be caught and punished; i.e., killed. The villain of the story—an incredibly creepy and yet completely believable businessman—is the very same man who invented the software that made Mark’s life vacations possible. He’s your typical dirty, despicable creature, and at the risk of revealing too much, the people he employs may be even worse.
The thing that sucks the reader into this is that Mark is essentially the every guy. It’s easy to relate to or understand his desire for contentment. Despite being in an extraordinary setting, he remains a realistic character. Spencer takes this character and gives him every opportunity and possibility, and yet the results are far from virtuous—pretty much what the average cynic would expect. You WANT to have a sense of hope while reading this—you want to believe in the light at the end of the tunnel, not only for Mark, but for all of us in the real world who are finding ourselves eerily connected to what he’s feeling here—and it’s that hope and connection that’s ultimately going to keep driving me to pick up the next issue. I hope Nick Spencer doesn’t lose me.
One thing I realize may not float everyone’s boat is the artwork. I happen to like it a lot—it’s different, and since the book itself is “different,” it serves its purpose. We’re looking mostly at some trippy colorwork throughout, except for a few pages of photorealism. Those photographic pages are the only ones that repel me; luckily, they’ve been few, and since they’re only used during the intervening scenes that explain the infinite vacation technology, the fact that they come off like a cheap ad works.
Infinite Vacation isn’t a superhero book. It’s not comedy, not horror, and even though a murder takes place, it really isn’t a murder-mystery either. It’s just its own thing. There isn’t much I can compare it to … but it’s worth the temporary escape.
“Vacation, all I ever wanted…”