Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote
Artist: Aaron Campbell
Colorist: José Villarrubia
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Review by Frank Lanza
Sometimes, when I review a comic, I like to go for something that’s not been on my radar at all. Go in totally blind and see what my gut reactions are when there’s no expectations or anticipation. Occasionally I’m disappointed, but more often than not I’m pleasantly surprised, and very rarely I’m knocked on my ass by what I just read. Such is the case with Infidel #2. Not only was I knocked on my ass, I had to sleep with the lights on too.
Infidel #2 continues the story of Aisha and her struggles as a Muslim woman of color living with her possibly racist mother-in-law and stepson Kris. Her fiance Tom is out of town and she’s left alone to live in a building that was blown up by a lone wolf terrorist bomber. A building that is now haunted by said terrorist who is determined to torment Aisha in the most terrible and devastating ways. Aisha begins to lose her hold on reality this issue as the supernatural onslaught intensifies, culminating in a terrible accident that will have massive effects on everyone around her.
As I stated before, this book caught me completely by surprise. I read the first issue in preparation for this review and I can honestly say that, by the time I was six pages in, I was thoroughly creeped out. And for this old horror fiend, this is no easy feat. In my opinion, horror in comics is doubly difficult to pull off since you can’t force the observer into the anticipatory claustrophobic build up that’s required to ramp up the fear. Your only device is the turn of the page and at that point all is revealed. But despite all this, Campbell’s visuals are perfectly framed and paced to keep you focused on the horror’s he conjuring up in every panel. Similarly, Pichetshote is not holding your hand as he leads you into the next dark room where God knows what is waiting for you.
And, at the same time, this team gives even the mundane storytelling panels a level of discomfort that is palpable throughout each issue. Every conversation feels pained; every sideways glare could be knowing or suspicious. Despite the horror theme, this book reminds me very much of Bendis and Maleev’s Scarlet. Campbell’s art is very reminiscent of Malvee’s realistic style and Pichetshote dialog and characters might as well be actual people frozen on each panel. It all feels like it could be happening right down the street, which was the same vibe I got from Scarlet. It’s a masterful work thus far, and I’m very much along for the ride.
One aspect of the book that I could comment on much more is the undercurrent of racial and religious bigotry and persecution that is present all around Aisha. It’s a very real and frank portrayal of what our world is currently like out there and lends a second layer of dread that is based in plain ol’ reality. I hesitate to say more for the fear of doing these themes injustice; I feel this book needs to be experienced to truly grasp the atmosphere following along in its wake.
Verdict: Buy it.
Really, what are you doing still reading this review, go out and buy this book. NOW. Infidel #2 is the horror title I didn’t know I was waiting for. I highly recommend this book and believe it deserves more than just one read-through. You just might want to leave that light on before you go to sleep though…