Infinite Dark Volume 1
Writer: Ryan Cady
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colorist: K. Michael Russell
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Publisher: Top Cow
Review by Christoph Staffl
As I read through the first volume of Infinite Dark, one thing kept coming to mind: the first two lines of Fredric Brown‘s short story “Knock.” They go like this: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.” This small part by itself might be the purest form of a horror story there is.
Infinite Dark takes the same concept but puts it in the most extreme context one can imagine. Billions of years before its time, the universe ends. The so-called Heat Death kicks in and destroys everything down to the last electron (more precisely they are decaying, but destruction sounds better). However, a single space station, built by human ingenuity resists the effect. The Orpheus is the last thing in the universe, carrying the last 2000 lives on board. Then one of the head-techno-linguists gets murdered, and all hell breaks loose. Secrets are exposed, and maybe even a question answered: is there a god?
Despite deep questions like the one above, one statement forces its way to the surface through the gutter: humans are shitty people. Even with nothing left, some of us have to fight for an ideology we think to be true. Not just killing people, sacrificing everyone around them for a seemingly noble course, but destroying a technological marvel that defies nature. But maybe that’s it: our nature.
It comes down to a fundamental principle: the search for a meaning in life. Everyone wants to know their purpose in the universe, even when there is no universe left. The search for a purpose can sometimes outshine another goal: pure survival. Because even when everything else died and ended, most people on-board fight more obsessively for their life. They have hope for a better future. But hope, as good as the concept might sound at first, can also be a bad influence, leading down a dark path. It all depends on the perspective.
I asked myself a lot, after reading the story of the first volume: why continue to fight for survival when there is nothing left? No planets to discover, no suns to warm your skin, no grass beneath your feet or wind, blowing through your hair. When everything you have left in existence is a cold Space Station made out of metal, why keep on fighting?
As we follow Deva Karrell, Director of Security of The Orpheus, she does not just reveal a wild conspiracy. She might also get some answers to the question. Infinite Dark explores so much more than the end of the universe. On their journey, the creators dissect the human psyche and dive deep into various psychological paths that people might take when faced with an extreme situation like this.
Those extreme situations are shown in the artwork as well, particularly through the panel structure. Overlapping panels create not just a sense of a fast-paced story, but also slow things down to show more details. At times the missing gutters between panels also play with pace. But most impressive of all are the distorted panels, where characters and objects break through the borders. They show the sheer force of what is going on in a particular scene.
However, it is not just the way the comic is designed as a whole that creates the horror. Early on the idea of a creature knocking on the door is introduced, and, as the story continues, you can never be sure if there is something out there or not. What would it want? How can something survive the Heat Death of the universe? And does that shadow look like a monster or is it all just in the head of the protagonist (or even the reader)?
The Verdict: Buy it!
The first arc of Infinite Dark may only contain four issues, but they are jam-packed with incredible visual storytelling. You can feel the attention to detail on every page. Be it the heavy world-building, the design of the space station, or the multifaceted characters, I love everything about this comic.