The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 102 | The Infinite Horizon TPB reviewed

Leaving Proof 102 | The Infinite Horizon TPB reviewed
Published on Thursday, April 12, 2012 by

In this modern retelling of Homer’s Odyssey, an unnamed soldier has to travel across the world and fight a bevy of villains before he can be reunited with his family. Does he make it? Of course! And no, a story based on a popular 3,000 year old poem doesn’t need a spoiler alert. You’ll have to read on to find out if the book is actually any good, though.

Key Review Points

Pros:

  • Interesting premise.
  • Excellent art by Phil Noto.

Cons:

  • Does little in the way of meaningfully refining or recontextualizing the Odyssey.
  • Multiple typographical errors are distracting.
Publication Details

  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Publication Date: March 2012
  • Written by: Gerry Duggan
  • Art by: Phil Noto
  • Lettering by: Ed Dukeshire
  • Book design by: Drew Gill
  • Format: 184 page full-colour trade paperback (collects The Infinite Horizon #s 1–4 originally published in single magazine form by Image Comics in 2008 and 2009 and the previously unpublished The Infinite Horizon #5 and #6)
  • List Price: $17.99 (digital review copy provided free-of-charge by the publisher)
Full Review

Writer Gerry Duggan and artist Phil Noto’s The Infinite Horizon is based on an interesting premise: it is a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey, set in the near-future, in a world wracked by armed conflict and environmental disaster. The Soldier with No Name is the book’s Odysseus, who has to fight his way out of the war-torn Middle East, through politically-unstable Africa, across the Atlantic Ocean, and finally to New York’s Catskills, where he must save his family and home from an armed band of squatters.

Artist Phil Noto’s work on the title is, as long-time comics readers are right to expect, excellent, both from a rendering and a visual storytelling standpoint. What is a bit surprising is the degree and manner of stylization that characterizes his illustrations in this volume: the linework is significantly looser than what most readers familiar with Noto’s comics ouevre are used to seeing from the former Disney clean-up artist. Combined with the book’s desaturated colour palette, this results in a raw, earthy, and organic look that serves the book well.

The main problem with The Infinite Horizon is that it does little in the way of meaningfully recontextualizing the Odyssey despite the opportunities afforded by the story’s setting. Instead, the textual paralleling wildly fluctuates in quality from inventive to unimaginatively literal to needlessly divergent. Duggan creatively updates Penelope’s quandary with The Suitors as a squabble with neighbours over water rights that turns violent, for example, but his version of Polyphemus as an actual cyclops (albeit one wearing advanced, possibly cybernetic, body armour) is uninspired and in a rare creative misfire, Noto’s design for the character borders on the banal. The Infinite Horizon‘s take on The Slaying of the Suitors descends into what I can only describe as unintentionally comedic violence, with the protagonist doing a John Rambo impression and his wife and young child (drawn as a preteen, in contrast to the Odyssey‘s young adult Telemachus) acting as quick-shooting gunslingers. The erratic and haphazard manner in which the Odyssey‘s characters, plot elements, and themes are revised in The Infinite Horizon leaves one with the suspicion that Duggan might have lost the thread of his adaptation partway through writing it, a hypothesis which squares with the original mini-series’ publication history: the last two installments of what was initially solicited as a six-issue mini-series back in 2008 never made it to press due to various delays and this trade paperback marks their print debut.

The book features a small number of blatant typographical errors which are especially distracting in a collected edition where one would assume the contents passed through another round of copy editing and proofreading (not to mention that the creative team and the editors have had over three years to reevaluate the material). The errors by themselves are not that numerous and are largely insignificant—only the most pedantic of readers would be unable to get past them—but it is what the errors represent as far as the care and attention allotted to the production process are concerned that is bothersome: it’s the reading equivalent of finding a hair in your soup at a restaurant.

Writers of adaptations of classic and classical literature face all sorts of unique challenges, perhaps chief among them the loss of narrative tension due to the fact that the reader is likely to be familiar with the plot and thematic details of the source material. The best adaptations mitigate this built-in drawback with expert craft and by offering new insights into the originating text, refining its themes, or even subverting them to creative ends. As a modern adaptation of the Odyssey, Image Comics’ The Infinite Horizon trade paperback offers little more than an occasionally clever—but ultimately inessential—summary of Homer’s epic poem filtered through contemporary action-adventure sensibilities. Nevertheless, it is beautifully illustrated and should be well worth the price for ardent fans of Phil Noto’s art.

The “Infinite Horizon” trade paperback is on sale now

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4 Responses
    • The thing that Image offers is creative freedom.  The creators don’t need an editor if they don’t want one.  But sometimes I think that at the very least Image should make the creators use a copy editor, just to pick up the grammatical and spelling mistakes.  The recent release of Secret by Jonathan Hickman contained a couple of mistakes as well.

      It doesn’t really adversely affect the work, but it is distracting.

      • You’re right in that typos don’t (and shouldn’t) take away from the creative merits of a work, but they do affect perception of production value and a book’s overall level of polish. As I mentioned in the review, it is very much like finding a hair in your soup at a restaurant… sure, it doesn’t really affect the important things like taste and flavour, but it makes you wonder how tightly and professionally the kitchen is being run (and also, finding hair on things that shouldn’t have hair is just gross).

        But the typos in The Infinite Horizon are really a very, very minor, almost inconsequential issue. What really let the book down for me was how it felt like a missed opportunity to do something really interesting with the intriguing premise of the adaptation. One of the great things about the Odyssey is the timelessness of its underlying themes of filial loyalty, guile trumping brute strength, the perils of succumbing to seduction and other temptations, the value of the hospitality of strangers, etc. Duggan doesn’t take full advantage of the setting to expound on those themes or meaningfully situate them in a new context. Instead, the book simply and superficially runs down a checklist of the original’s familiar plot points.

        • That is a shame.  That’s the whole point of doing a new take on the Odyssey, you’re doing a new take, exploring the themes in a different way, not doing it note for note.

          • I guess part of my dismay stems from heightened expectations. Even though I hadn’t read the book before in its incomplete, “floppy” mini-series form back when it first came out in 2008, I did hear about the Eisner Award nomination and obviously, having a name like Phil Noto attached to the project really raised its profile. Having read it now though, all the hubbub that accompanied the mini-series back then baffles me a little… I mean sure, it looks good and it is competently written, but I do wonder if part of the buzz was simply the result of the uncritical acclaim so commonly foisted upon “literary” and “art” comics by reviewers and industry observers, regardless of the work’s actual creative merits and entertainment value.

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