The Accelerators Vol. 3: Relativity by R.F.I. Porto, Gavin Smith, Tim Yates
At the end of Momentum, Spatz was separated from his fellow time-travelers and held back in the last years of the third millennium with an old Spatz while the rest of the group skipped ahead to the 88th century and met yet another Spatz — this one just a little older, and with an accelerator design scarring his torso. In The Accelerators Vol. 3: Relativity, we follow two Spatzes: the younger one, who gets caught up in Evangeline’s attempt to free the once-idyllic town’s citizens from slavery, and the older one, whose grasp on reality is quite shaky and leads him to commit heinous acts. The third, oldest Spatz attaches himself to the youngest and offers commentary on everything that’s going on, though his memories of the present and future (which are his past) don’t always match up with what actually occurs. Time-travel is … confusing, at best. For the sake of clarity, I’ll refer to each of the Spatzes as young-Spatz, crazy-Spatz, and old-Spatz; thankfully, it’s much easier to keep track of which Spatz is which in the comic panels.
Young-Spatz is crushing hard on Evangeline, though they haven’t seen each other in a year, and she’s spent that time training with weapons and enacting guerilla-style warfare against the town’s new mayor, who aligned with criminals that had been imprisoned by the town’s A.I. Evangeline has toughened up considerably, and is more capable of saving herself from danger than young-Spatz is of saving her or even himself, though he hasn’t lost his quick wit. Crazy-Spatz discusses a little about what he’s been up to in the 88th, including the news that he’s figured out how to travel back and forth at any point in history, as well as revealing his intimate relationship with Bob and his creation of the Gamemasters. Unfortunately, crazy-Spatz has that nickname for a reason, and he’s suffering from some pretty substantial delusions.
We’re now into volume three of The Accelerators, and at this point, there’s been a fair amount of expository dialogue without any clear explanation of how or when this all began and where it’s leading to. Like the previous two books, the last pages of Relativity set up a giant cliff-hanger for what’s to come, but the pages leading up to that point feel like R.F.I. Porto is meandering in order to allow old-Spatz to confuse young-Spatz over and over again. Crazy-Spatz has an epic temper tantrum, resulting in a character death which was obviously intended to be profound, but the character in particular had turned into too much of a “sexy lamp” for me to have any emotional investment; rather, I was disappointed, because I was hoping for expanded character development across the board, and this series has begun to rely solely on versions of Spatz running around and shouting at themselves to further the plot. Alexa and Bertram, who were so key to Time Games and Momentum, don’t do much more in Relativity than ask a few questions and listen to panels of monologue. Bob basically puts on a slinky dress, drapes herself over crazy-Spatz, and vamps around; Gamemaster Gramp and the gladiator Spartacus have a minor adventure with crazy-Spatz’s gamemasters, but it doesn’t really go anywhere.
Where the story takes its time getting to the point, the artwork feels rushed. Gavin Smith’s designs have me constantly questioning who’s related to whom in this story, since I can never tell if characters are supposed to look alike or not. Some panels are little more than sketches of a person’s face, but when that face is static and fills an entire 3” x 3” panel, readers generally expect that to be an opportunity for close detail work — and sometimes that’s the case, but sometimes, frustratingly, it isn’t. There are instances when the line work is too thick or too vague, and a greater level of consistency across the book would greatly improve the overall experience. On the other hand, the colors are striking, and Tim Yates does a great job of delineating when a storyline is taking place through his use of palettes and shadows: dimmer, grey-washed tones for young-Spatz’s time with Evangeline; super-saturated colors, particularly green, in crazy-Spatz’s outdoor scenes (where everything appears to be perfect in his Edenic garden), contrasted with blues, reds, and greys for the interior scenes (where his madness is manifested).
I’m still invested in THE ACCELERATORS — I want to know what’s really going on here, I want to know what’s in store for Spatz and how he’s the lynchpin to everything that has happened and will happen next. A few hints and clues have been dropped that, I hope, will lead to greater explanation. I also hope that, in future installments, the rest of the group regains its former prominence. The Accelerators Vol. 3: Relativity is a worthwhile read because of the story progression it does provide, but I hope to see a more focus-driven narrative and at least a few answered questions in the next volume.