Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trade Waiting - The Infinite Horizon

The Odyssey. Written by Homer, it is the story of how Odysseus, ruler of Ithaca, warrior, and loving family man, made his way home after the arduous Trojan War (seen in the less exciting Iliad,) going through all manner of trials and tribulations in the process so he can finally be reunited with his wife and son. Make no mistake; this is the daddy of all action adventure stories and for people who have never read it, the blueprint for not only all action and adventure yarns but for revenge tales as well. What makes The Odyssey so well revered is its adaptability throughout the ages. Even now in the age of technological marvels we can still read The Odyssey and find common themes and values to live and abide by, reading what was once seen as literal and finding metaphors within to understand and enjoy. Using the foundations of what The Odyssey is to make new tales almost as old as the book itself, but creators Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto have taken a different route, literally rewriting The Odyssey and taking the metaphors found within the text and making them very real world worries. It takes a brave duo to take on if not the best, then definitely the earliest action adventure tale and modernise it for a comics reading audience. The question is, with The Infinite Horizon did they pull it off? Find out after the jump.

The Infinite Horizon
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Phil Noto
Published by Image Comics

It’s 2020 and the world is still at war, the years of America going to war in places they don’t know or understand has taken its toll on the planet and now, on the brink of running out of fossil fuels, they have pulled the plug, leaving countless of their own behind with no way to get home to their families. Meanwhile in the USA, the populace is devolving back into a kind of feudal system, using fear to get what they want. This is The Infinite Horizon. A familiar world to the one we are living in now but with one difference, we have finally fallen of the edge we have been teetering on for the last decade. In a world that has fallen apart, to stay sane you need goals and targets and this is what keeps our main characters going. Our unnamed hero (or Odysseus,) has one goal, get back to his family halfway across the world by any means necessary. His wife and son also have only one goal, to make sure that they can keep their hands on their property long enough in the vain hope that their husband and father can come home and save the day. To get home our hero has to go through a set of trials like no other and has to be willing to question his own sense of worth and what is right and wrong along the way. What The Infinite Horizon achieves above all else is twofold. First with our hero instilling the sense of how far, both physically and mentally, one man can go when the people he loves are the goals to get to, and second with his wife, showing how much you are willing to take if you have enough faith to know that your saviour will eventually come to you. Unfortunately, this isn’t a regular pilgrimage home; this is a world where class, politics and economics have been thrown out of the window. A place where East African pirates rule the seas; a place where child soldiers police whole towns with an iron fist; a place where failed Russian super soldiers can break out and set up shop on their own private island, killing for fun.

Gerry Duggan, soon to be ‘D-Listing it up’ with Brian Posehn and Tony Moore on the soon to be relaunched Deadpool is without a doubt a name to look for in the future. By adapting The Odyssey in to a very near future setting, Duggan has taken some inspired liberties with the original text. The aforementioned Cyclops is a super soldier that wears body armour that makes him look like the fabled one eyed beast. The Sirens are a promise of a new world spoken through the radio, but like the original Sirens looks can be deceiving and this utopia is no exception. The most interesting appropriation of characters are the ones of Odysseus’/our hero’s wife and son. Rather than being effectively the rulers of Ithaca, they find themselves in a position of misfortune purely because of the position of their farm and the drinking water that runs through it. Duggan also manages to pull off something that even the original text could not, humanising the main character in more ways than ‘I need to get home to my family.’ He is a captain of an armed forces unit and shows affection to members of his team, going as far as to bury a dead member of his unit with an apology that his grave couldn’t be more fitting. Duggan also uses the hero to wax philosophical on not only what is going on in front of him but what is happening around us, right now. On more than one occasion is reviewer had to put the book down to reflect on a profound sentence found in a caption box. Straight away on the opening page of chapter one you can already see the way that Duggan will be utilising our hero’s internal monologues with a ‘The war that never ran out of blood…just quietly ran out of gas.’ Maybe a statement of our near future or just doom mongering? Either way, Duggan is not afraid to make you think a little for your entertainment.

Phil Noto is slowly but surely becoming an artist of some regard. Also ‘D-Listing it up’ at the moment over at the House of Ideas by currently doing the art chores on the Deadpool starring Uncanny X-Force, Noto is one of a growing number of artists, like Fiona Staples and Kody Chamberlain, who are doing the multi-media computer assisted art style in the correct manner. His style is stark, with very little in the sense of shading, cross hatching or even backgrounds to speak of, but what he has in abundance is mood and tone. For a book that essentially takes place on about half of the planet, Noto makes the scene shifts look effortless with just a few moves up or own the colour wheel. In fact, the strongest facet of Noto’s art is his colour work. Not content with just a subtle change of colour from scene to scene, Noto actually changes his entire style of colouring to suit the needs of the setting. Early scenes involving the Cyclops use an almost painterly style, the issues spent in Africa have a sun drenched palette with a lot of the shading done using the colours, and the scenes back in New York have an almost Laura Allred style flatness about them. The colour work is actually so good it would be interesting to see what Noto colours would look like over other artist’s pens.

Verdict – Buy it

Not satisfied with just adapting the Odyssey, Duggan and Noto have crafted a warning as to what would actually happen if the world descended into chaos, and by going for the most realistic route as possible rather than aiming for sensationalism, they have created a very scary tale indeed. Thoughtfully written and drawn in a style that is always interesting yet never confusing, The Infinite Horizon is a book that deserves far more praise than was put on it upon release, and one hopefully that can be proved wrong come 2020.

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