The Infinite Horizon #1, December 2007, Image Comics
by Gerry Duggan & Phil Noto
letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Folks use the phrase all the time, but it's one of the most subjective cliches ever. I mean, without a clear perception of the outcome, how can one be sure he's "off to a good start?" Well, in an attempt to embrace the concept completely this appropriately dubbed New Year's Day, the beginning of this A Comic A Day challenge will be an exploration of beginnings, or, in comic book terms, number one issues. Every issue I review in January will be a "number one" (in many cases only in numerical distinction, I'm sure) in the hopes of establishing what makes for a good start. And what better way to kick off such a journey than with a comic book that adapts one of the first epic stories of all time?
The Infinite Horizon is a "modern re-imagining of Homer's The Odyssey," according to its back cover synopsis, which, coupled with Phil Noto's artistic credit, was all I need to purchase this first issue. Interestingly, I often flip a comic book over to see what's in that back space, though I'm often met with just another "Got Milk" ad, or something. Real books utilize that space for plot synopses and critical praise, as if publishers know that most folks like to start where the book technically ends, so why shouldn't comics, particularly the sort without an internationally recognized superhero in the title, commandeer the same marketing technique? The Infinite Horizon may be based on one of the Western world's oldest stories, but its packaging represents a step forward in graphic design.
The context of The Infinite Horizon is rather progressive, too, considering its setting: the war in Iraq. Our proverbial Odysseus is a soldier assigned the responsibility of supervising and facilitating an airport and the subsequent evacuation of American civilians, but in Duggan and Noto's predictions, the Middle East's oil fields are a casualty of war. When the planes stop coming, our captain rallies his troops and makes a run across the desert for the nearest port, where he intends to sail to home. Of course, anyone that knows the story of Odysseus knows that home is a simmering challenge all to itself, and our captain's wife, whose name is still Penelope, is barely holding the front against potential suitors and battling land barons. Some things never change.
While Gerry Duggan's writing is very capable, Phil Noto's art is a neon explosion, splashing the desert's sepia tones with stark sky blues that pop off of the page as much as they drag you in. Though his characters sometimes lack the exaggerated proportions of typical comic book protagonists, these characters' rigidity reveal a tension brewing behind the scenes, the terrible adventure that is to come. What the characters need, and the lengths they'll go to acquire it, is transparent, and, interestingly, Duggan and Noto give us the outcome on the first page. "Getting back to her was my greatest achievement," is the first line. We know our hero gets home.
Yet, if The Infinite Horizon is a true adaptation of The Odyssey, we knew that anyway. Perhaps, when it comes to timeless storytelling, the beginning and the end aren't as important as bridging the gap between them.