Friday, March 7, 2014

The Infinite Horizon

The Infinite Horizon, by Gerry Duggan, and artwork by Phil Noto

Book Description:

"The Eisner-nominated series inspired by The Odyssey is finally completed and collected. The Soldier With No Name survived years of war only to be stranded halfway across the globe when the conflict ended. Getting home means going through the hell: escaping shipwrecks, beating a vicious opponent wearing a cycloptic combat armor, and resisting the siren's call of a predatory society. Contains bonus material by artist Phil Noto."

Angie's Review:

We have here, The Odyssey, set in a not-too-distant, dystopian future. The Soldier with no name begins his journey in Syria as the war there comes to a close. But as he prepares to depart for home, the world spirals into chaos. Royal families are assassinated, China destroys the U.S. satellite grid, and Syria, without an American presence, reverts quickly back into terrorists' hands. 

Meanwhile, in the U.S., New York City is flooded- is it from a hurricane? There are hints of disease and fighting breaking out across the nation, and marshal law has been declared. Penelope, the soldier's wife,  and her son, are defending their homestead from the neighbors who they used to call friends. Now that there are water shortages, and Penelope's farm sits on land with a well, her property just became a hotly contested commodity, and she fears for her life and for her son.

Amid this chaos, the Soldier is trying to return home, but obstacles are set in his path, much like those that Odysseus faced. There is a cyclops that he must face, a siren call that he must hear, and an injury he must overcome- both to his body and soul. He must triumph over all of this before he can even reach home, where he must take down the men who have his family under the gun.

So, although there are many similarities between this story and The Odyssey, this tale is not a fantasy. There are no actual witches or titans, just men and women with malicious intent. The setting is an unsettling version of our current world, and so the whole mood of the comic is one of desperation and despair. The Soldier may be able to save his family, but the anarchy that the world has descended into is something he cannot save his comrades and associates from. The Soldier is haunted by his failures to save other innocents, and he is constantly at war with enemies, both internal and external. 

This is reflected in the artwork. The comic features muted colors, with lots of shades of khaki, army green and gray dominating the palettes. This color theme subtly accentuates the notion that the Soldier is never done fighting.

My one complaint with this graphic novel is that it takes an epic story and condenses it down into one volume. The Odyssey is by nature a long story- a story of a man who struggles for years to find his way home- and yet, since this is relatively short, I don't feel the same sense of time that the character does. It probably would have worked better if it had been extended into a two or three book series. Then they could have also worked more of the monsters into this story. I would have liked to see a Circe character here, and she is absent. I would have liked more back-story for just how America and the world got so screwed up, and I think Charybdis could have been worked in as a great storm. There is a hint of the lotus -eaters in this, though, and I enjoyed that reference.

So, overall, I liked this, but didn't love it. I think there were great ideas here, and a nice symmetry with the story and the artwork. However, it falls a bit short of great for me, because it simply feels rushed.

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