Things I Like: Infinite Horizon

June 22, 2008

This guy just realized he’s not getting any for 10 years

Although the series has been out for a little bit and picked up some good press (nominated for an Eisner in best new series among other things) I was kind of sleeping on this title and I feel like a lot of other people have been too. The biggest thing you should know about Infinite Horizon is that its a retelling of the Odyssey. This to me is interesting. Every time I hear that something is based on the Odyssey I can’t help but spend the bulk of my time with the material trying to recall all of those middle school classes about the original and compare it to whatever updated version I happen to be experiencing. What makes Infinite Horizon even more interesting to me is that they decided to condense this bagillion page classic into a 6 part comic book run. How in the world are they going to do this? So far, I’ve read the first three issues (put out by image comics) and they’re going at a brisk pace, to say the least, but are still hitting the major plot points.

There are though some major and potentially problematic differences. Some of them can be attributed to the fact that this is a modernization of the story and some things just aren’t going to work the same due to changes in social norms. The most obvious example would be the suitors. In today’s day and age a bunch of men moving into a woman’s house when her husband is lost in a war just isn’t going to read with the same authenticity as it does in an ancient setting. I’m not so sure about the solution though. Instead of having mooching suitors eating her out of house and home and competing for her affection as she does her best to preserve her honor, the Penelope character is a commanding woman who appears to be caught in some struggle between two factions of farmer’s who are competing for her water. (apparently she alone controls access to this powerful aphrodisiac.) I wonder what her analogous action to knitting will be in order to delay her “suitors'” unquenched thirst for water turning a thirst for blood.

Another change is the lack of the supernatural. This change though could lead to some interesting applications of artistic license as Duggan tries to create parallels through scientifically explicable lanes. And that twisting of the source material is really the most fun things about these kinds of projects to me. His vision of the cyclops for instance is a really big soldier in high tech armor that they guess is of Israeli or Russian origin. His sheep are really just prisoners that obey his command. I’m waiting to see how Circe turns everyone into pigs. The absence of divine intervention though means that some of the more complicated bits of intrigue and the switcheroo shapeshifting elements of the story are probably going to be cut, but that’s probably for the best when we consider the limited space Duggan has to work in.

Two changes in terms of character bother me though. 1. Telemachus becomes a little boy and the role is is given in the beginning of the Odyssey hasn’t been brought up yet. I don’t understand yet how he is going to be an effective force in dealing with the suitors; especially because he has been kidnapped which I don’t recall happening in the original. This new plot point puts a lot of pressure on the Penelope character who decides to take decisive action which seems out of character for her. That is emblematic of my only real problem with this series. This abridgment seems to have forced a sacrifice of cleverness on the part of the hero’s. The battle with the Cyclops was a little disappointing for me because it lacked the flair that Odysseus had in the original. Odysseus is the dude that thought up the Trojan horse right? He’s a crafty guy. I’d like to see more of that.

Overall though I find it interesting enough to keep reading and its a nice alternative to the big superhero comics. I’m liking Noto’s art a lot too.

Also, you might want to check out

House of Mystery (Vertigo) which is on its second issue right now and is co-written by Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham.