By Pornsak Pichetshote, Aaron Campbell, José Villarrubia, Jeff Powell
Just like that, one of 2018’s best new series is over as issue #5 of Infidel wraps up the insightful comic. To the very bitter end, the team pushes new ideas forward and proves that horror can be much more than just a genre. After each issue, it seemed like there was a predictable ending for Infidel, and after each issue, readers were proven wrong. The comic’s unique perspective on its racial struggles is riveting all the way up to the final page. Wrap that up in Campbell’s skin scratching designs and Villarrubia’s nightmarish colors, and it’s easy to see why people love this book. Like its predecessors, issue #5 progresses comics craft as well as ideas about society.
Infidel #5, like many good horror stories, opens with a jarring, unfamiliar scene. It knocks readers off balance until they realize what Pichetshote is getting at, and this taste sets up the meal of a comic that’s to come. Throughout, the narrative drops bits of information that are similar to moral dilemmas; in order for a character to do this, they have to do this. There are constant prods at the reader, asking “Are you okay with this? Why?” Sometimes it leaves a bitter taste on the tongue, but when it does, it lasts. You’re left thinking about that bitterness pages after the event happens, and, like clockwork, you’re more in tune with another person’s perspective. That empathy comes from the horror tactics. Campbell and Villarrubia’s visuals terrify the living hell out of the character, and by proxy, the reader. That shared fear puts readers who may not look like Infidel’s main characters in their shoes and is a learning experience.
Thematically, the series wraps up blending modern hate and love in a way that speaks to several types of readers. For some, it’s a method of coping, and for others, it’s insight for the repercussions of our thoughts and actions. Issue #5’s final page is equal parts optimistic and fearful. It’s aware of the times.
On each technical level, Infidel #5 continues to excel as well. Writing by Pichetshote is riddled with double meanings without coming off as clunky. He has a handle on dialogue that humanizes his characters and provides the empathy that’s integral to the comic. We want them not only to succeed against the supernatural horrors, but to be happy as well. Campbell’s pencils rely on thin lines, which helps pull his style into gripping realism, especially during supernatural scenes. The panel layouts themselves are some of the best this year as they test the bounds and push past their gutters. Villarrubia’s colors work to set the tone in each panel. Whether the team wants us to feel scared, hopeful, or thoughtful, Villarrubia has the perfect palette for the job.
It’s difficult to complain about Infidel #5. The only reason not to buy this issue, or any of the preceding ones, is if you want to live in a world where this comic and its creators go on forever. Infidel is a comic to be studied and celebrated.