Shiny Shelf


The Infinite #1

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 22 August 2011

Kirkman and Liefeld. It’s an indie comic dream come true.

I was casually looking through the shelves at a comic book shop this weekend when I stumbled upon a cover that caught my eye.

Not because it was mind-blowing, or because the content was grotesque torture porn. Rather, the testosterone-laden imagery, with a foreground character whose chest would make Arnold Schwarzenegger in his hey-day proud and skin-tight outfit leaving no question as to the effectiveness of his body training, as well as various background floating heads (the sharp angles, the generous use of lines, and a Mohawk that appears to have been shorn from wood) made it abundantly clear that I was staring at Rob Liefeld’s handy work.

My gaze drifted up and noted three details immediately: the title of the comic (‘The Infinite’), it was published by Image Comics, and Robert Kirkman’s name was across the top.

Hold it.

This was a comic book written by Robert Kirkman, he of ‘Walking Dead’ and ‘Invincible’ fame? I am a huge fan of the ‘Walking Dead’ (and only just recently picked up ‘Invincible Ultimate Collection Volume 1’), and while Kirkman’s non-creator owned work has left me with a distinct feeling of ‘meh’, his Image work has impressed.

Now, Liefeld takes me back to my early teens. ‘New Mutants’ and ‘X-Force’: if you think about these comics in the early 90s, you can’t help but think about Liefeld’s work on these titles. I remember the big splash when he and several other prominent artists left Marvel to form Image comics, and his ‘Youngblood’ was one of the hotly-anticipated titles. While his popularity and output petered out through the 90’s due to lateness and other concerns, Liefeld’s artistic style was one I always found easy to identify.

So upon seeing these two working on a series together, it was a must-buy, at least for the first issue. Which, it turns out, was a mixed bag.

‘The Infinite’ is not a bad comic. It just has a lot of work to do in the first issue for a new property: establish the main characters and the narrative landscape, as well as provide a cohesive plot. Issue 1 does all of this (though more on the last point in a little bit), but the first half of the issue (which takes place in the future) is mired in too much exposition. In some ways, it reminds me of “old school” comic book writing from the 80s and 90s, with our angsty hero Bowen expressing his distaste and issues with the villain (in this case Imperius, a retro-sounding name).

When they come to blows, there’s even more talking and justifying their own actions. Perhaps Kirkman got caught up in his childhood for a moment, because it was almost painfully nostalgic. Things improve a bit once Bowen escapes and the narrative shifts to the present day and the plot slows down enough to establish just what Bowen and company are up against.

Kirkman has described ‘The Infinite’ as a buddy movie, except the hero teams up with himself. In this case, Bowen winds up traveling back through time to team up with his younger self and stop the series’ threat, the eponymous ‘Infinite’.

Which is where the plot has me scratching my head. Granted, this is only the first issue, and Kirkman is no newbie to storytelling. But one concern I hope is addressed is the paradoxical nature of Bowen teaming up with his younger self.

By his actions in this story, he has already changed the future, and one can assume that (future) Bowen is now from an alternate timeline. Which, in that case, he’s not really changing the future but simply making a better one for a different timeline.

With me so far? Yeah, time travel stories are tricky and I am hoping Kirkman provides some compelling explanations and simply does not hand-wave it away.

Liefeld’s artwork is exactly what you would expect if you know his style. It has not changed much over the past 20 years; it has evolved slightly in that it looks a bit more polished, but that’s about it. His men look like steroid abusers, his women like silicone models, and the guns are big. If you were not a Liefeld fan before this comic, he does nothing to win you over. But the artwork does fit the story perfectly.

‘The Infinite’ has an interesting premise, but it’s a benefit to the series that the Kirkman and Liefeld’s names will sell the first few issues. Were this the same comic by a bunch of unknowns, it would not have sold very well based on the contents of the first issue alone. It’s too uneven and clunky, even for a first issue. But it has enough – just enough – to hook you in, at least long enough to see where the initial storyline goes. The potential is there, but it should improve quickly, else the creators’ names won’t be enough to salvage it.


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By Julio Angel Ortiz

Julio Angel Ortiz maintains his collection of curiosities at www.julioinprogress.com. You can also Like him on Facebook as well and check out his latest writing projects.




One Response

  1. [...] single issue of a comic than I ever have before. Shiny Shelf now has my latest review, which is for the premiere issue of Robert Kirkman and Rob Liefeld’s The Infinite. You have been warned. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]