THIS REVIEW OF ‘INFINITE DARK’ #1 CONTAINS SPOILERS.
by Jarrod Jones. It rests at the edge of the universe and glides on the edge of a razor. Not Occam’s, mind you; life, it seems, only gets more complicated the less there are of us hanging around. It’s Infinite Dark, the first creator-owned project from comics wunderkind Ryan Cady and artist Andrea Mutti (with colors by K. Michael Russell and letters from Troy Peteri), a Top Cow debut that throws us at the end of time, when the last lonely (and increasingly desperate) hours of humanity are all that’s left.
Infinite Dark, intriguingly enough, is equal parts space odyssey and murder mystery. It’s also a bit grim, the kind of paranoid fiction that comes from a not-so healthy diet of social media and ceaseless breaking news alerts. And a very healthy awareness of the abyss. Infinite Dark has big ideas about the nature of entropy, survivor’s guilt, life itself. It’s an Ark saga with a nigh-empty manifest, a space opera with ancient phantoms lurking behind its endless black backdrop. Favorable comparisons could (and should) be made to Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Nameless for its dalliances with evil, and Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel and Rod Reis’ Hadrian’s Wall for its simmering whodunit bonafides. It’s a good debut. It’s a damn good debut.
Story begins with a simulated therapy session with Security Director Deva Karrell, who works out her angst alongside a conspicuously friendly AI named SM1TH (Matrix implications, maybe, but we’ll just have to wait and see) and sets the stage for this ultimate melodrama quite effectively: The universe is dying, rapidly. Thousands of vessels packed to the brim with the last of us failed to make their final trek across an ocean of increasingly distant stars to the station Orpheus, which now floats along an inkblot of finality. It’s a mausoleum for what we were, and tragically, what we could have been. And amongst its relatively tiny skeleton crew, somebody’s just murdered somebody else.
It’s fascinating stuff. Cady doesn’t bother with red herrings for this series’ first (though presumably not last) brutal slaying; it’s Tech Director Alvin Scheidt who went and done the deed (cute creator name-drop, btw). But as Deva delves deeper into Scheidt’s motives, which takes her and a small crew to the seemingly unused wings of Orpheus station (aptly labeled “The Dark Sector”), we soon discover that the good Director’s hand may have been forced by something beyond madness. Something alive that’s not us.
Seemingly, Cady and Mutti’s story holds that there are no other beings in this universe aside from ourselves without explicitly saying so (yet). And if that’s the case, it’s a rather bleak way to sci-fi, an anti-Roddenberrian take on humanity’s driven need to explore the great expanse. How did we get so good at space travel to survive at the edge of existence? Because home isn’t so cozy anymore, most likely. But it might explain why the last people in the universe are spending their final days going through the motions instead of cataloging what “nothing” really is, because apparently that “nothing” is obscuring what drove Scheidt mad.
In the solicit info, it’s stated that the universe “ended,” but in Infinite Dark, we’re still here and so is something else. There are still people left to scream at the blackness surrounding us, to throw fists into open space in defiance of entropy. And while there may be a nasty bit of cosmic horror out there nudging us ever closer to oblivion, so long as people like Deva Karrell draw breath, hope remains. And an evil to counter it.
Top Cow/Image Comics/$3.99
Written by Ryan Cady.
Art by Andrea Mutti.
Colors by K. Michael Russell.
Letters by Troy Peteri.
Story edits by Alex Lu.
8 out of 10