- Infinity: A Tale of the Inferno
- Caliber Comics
- Written by Chad M. Strohl
- Art & Letters by Kamil Boettcher
- Edited by Lorenzo Molinari
Homicide detective John Dante is in for a pretty hellacious ride (it’s in the name, if you’re of a literary mindset). His current case has him tracking Alistair Thorne, a killer whose savagery pushes beyond anything Dante has ever seen. The investigation sheds some impossible light on Thorne’s past as Dante begins to close in. Before this hunt is over, Detective Dante will have to stare down the gullet of the Abyss, into the pits of Hell itself and before he’s done, he’ll travel the Nine Rings to reach his goal and find justice. Or maybe a little absolution…
I told you. It’s all in the name.
At the end of the day, Infinity: A Tale of the Inferno is a story that embraces established tropes and plot devices. Before you go jumping to conclusions, it doesn’t do it because it doesn’t have anything to say on its own, but in order to take what’s been done and twist it for a different angle. While often familiar, Infinity isn’t necessarily predictable… at least inasmuch as the road it takes to get from its beginning, to its end, and back again.
Chad Strohl has scripted a plot full of dark revelations and bright flashes of optimism through a non-linear narrative. The full story is revealed to the reader in pieces, shifting back and forth between flashback and current events as Detective John Dante navigates the realms of the damned. The tactic works out very well here because it lets the reader follow along without falling into the trap of thinking we know what’s going on. While certain plot devices- the solitary blues player who sold his soul for his music, Dante’s police partner who follows his friend because he knows John would do the same, a family that’s been shattered by loss and obligation- may be borrowed or revisited, it’s in Strohl’s execution that he avoids falling into the pitfall of seeming overused or unoriginal. He manages to take what’s been done before, weaving it into his story so that we can all see it and acknowledge it without getting too hung up on it. To be honest, I don’t have any issue at all with intelligently used tropes in storytelling. If they didn’t work, they’d never get to the point where they could be considered tropes.
Helping out with the storytelling in a really big way, the artistic team of Kamil Boettcher & Lukasz Marko have done their share of heavy lifting. The visual style of Infinity is a rough one, full of frenetic energy that doesn’t adhere to traditional comicbook artistic norms (personally, I kinda like the irony in that when compared to Strohl’s use of established symbolism). If certain facial details don’t impact a panel, they’re omitted in favor of the ones that do… it took me a bit to realize that in most cases the eyes were what really mattered, as I kept asking myself. Boettcher and Marko also lean very heavily on color to distinguish scenes and tones… When the events of one panel trigger a flashback taking place in the next, their color palette shifts to ease us through the transition.
On the whole, this is a story that I’m happy to have read in full rather than in parts. It was worth the extra time taken, and it let me settle in and hold onto the tone as it built up to a pretty emotional end. Now, the first issue has been released on ComiXology as of July 10th, with the following issues slated to come out every week following, to wrap up a six-issue run (trade paperback to follow).
My final score: a well-deserved 9