Having been left waiting for the fourth instalment of The Infinite Horizon for just over a year, it's sad to think that the three remaining issues might be passed over by readers who've missed the first three chapters. I'm buoyed by reassurances from my local comic shop that interest in the title's shipping schedule has remained strong during this time, but it's fair to say at this stage that most people will probably wait for the trade. That however, would be a great shame.
Based on Homer's The Odyssey, The Infinite Horizon tells the story of The Captain, an officer trying to get home after a desperate withdrawal of American forces from an unspecified Middle Eastern conflict. As well as confronting updated ciphers of the source material's mythological enemies (such as issue three's "Cyclops", mechanized Russian super-soldiers), The Captain's plight is worsened by a world starved of oil and on the brink of societal collapse as a result. Given equal page space is the story of The Captain's wife and child in North America, who hold out for his return in a volatile community desperate for the water that's distributed from their land. The stakes are high in both cases and each partner's hope to one day be reunited with the other is deftly used throughout to bind the narratives together.
This issue sees The Captain stranded and strung out in North Africa, tending to wounds both physical and emotional. So far The Captain's been a cool-headed strategist with a penchant for swift, conclusive violence. But waiting for his broken leg to heal has led to introspection, and with that come the ghosts of the dead and a deep disbelief that he'll ever see home again. It's great character work mixed with some suitably trippy visuals and an ending that's setting up for a strong final leg of the series. And, uh, talking of legs, if do-it-yourself surgery freaks you out...might wanna miss the last couple of pages. Elsewhere, Mrs. The Captain travels to a waterlogged New York--think Brian Wood's DMZ mixed with Waterworld--to barter for the safe return of her son, recently taken hostage by some water hungry mafia types.
Gerry Duggan's script is as taut and economical as ever, and the pacing of the story (year long gap notwithstanding) is great. There's never a whole lot of dialogue, but what's there reads fluidly and always adds up to more than the sum of its parts. For instance, the global picture of this world is always hinted at but never fully explained, and is perhaps all the richer for it.
Of course, any deficiencies in verbiage are more that adequately plugged by Phil Noto's fantastic artwork. The squalid color palate speaks volumes about the fatigued, worn down nature of this world and its' protagonists, and Noto's deceptively uncomplicated line work somehow manages to convey tight, fluid action equally as well as it does for close frame, evocative facial expressions. There's also a great effect of watermarks, smudges and stains that bleed over panels and gutters alike. It gives a grandiose, antiquated feel to the book that serves the story (and its' classical origins) really well. Add to that the complicated mix of watercolors, inks, pencils and dot-matrix effects expertly utilised throughout and you have one of the most original looking comics on the shelves.
All in all The Infinite Horizon is a must-buy title that reinterprets one of the great texts of Western Civilisation within an all too believable vision of a proto-apocalyptic future, while still paying dues to the original on all the right beats. My only concerns at this point are hoping that Image don't make me wait another year for my next fix and that there'll be enough space in the next two issues to really give this fantastic series the ending it deserves.
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