By Pornsak Pichetshote, Aaron Campbell, Jose Villarrubia, Jeff Powell
Infidel #2, the latest in social horror, charges forward with a tense, nuanced issue, where anything goes. Pichetshote continues to impress with his writing ability. Aisha’s fears are complicated by characterization from her fiance’s mother, Leslie, and it seems no one is on the same page. Each of her experiences feels genuine and, from a reader’s perspective, we’re just as confused as she is. Campbell has to take credit for providing the fear we feel, though. He’s using every tool in his arsenal to make the most terrifying book that he can.
Not only do Campbell’s designs appear to have marched out of a nightmare, but his ability to layout a panel is perfect for the genre. When things get weird, he uses camera angles to create uniquely off-putting scenes. Towards the climax of the issue, Campbell begins using panels that put the reader in the eye of the monsters. The fact that we see Aisha’s perspective as well as the monsters’ and even Leslie’s, is important and ingenious. For readers who don’t face discrimination the way Aisha does, it elicits empathy, awareness, and perhaps even a healthy amount of guilt. Pichetshote and Campbell force readers to examine how they affect a situation like this one, and, equally important, how it feels to live with prejudice.
When Aisha’s anxiety peaks, it seems to be connected with what she’s doing at the time. Thanks to this, as well as the angle of the panel, there’s an immediate feeling that she’s being watched. This points to Aisha’s concern of how her family, specifically Leslie, views her and what she does. Pichetshote does an excellent job of showing readers that Aisha wants her family to accept her, and it seems that this is part of where her fears come from. The other comes from a much larger, more sinister, Islamophobia from the American public, and it’s the combination of these fears that makes the book so relevant.
When there aren’t terrible monsters, or monsters that look like people, Infidel #2 spends its time characterizing. By the end of this issue, the hook is not only social implications or horror, but about Aisha’s daughter, Kris, and her nostalgic obsession with Star Wars. For two issues now, Pichetshote has put an emphasis on the relationship between Aisha and her fiance’s daughter, and it’s paid off to great effect. In this issue, those small moments between the two add up in a big way that will shape the rest of the series.
Infidel #2 is a precise piece of storytelling. The comic uses horror as a genre and as a tool to convey a message and a feeling that not all of its readers are familiar with. In this way, it’s simultaneously saying validating the fears of one audience, while educating another. Campbell and Pichetshote are thoughtful in their creative decisions, and the result is a comic that’s intelligent and wicked.