"Infidel #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Pornsak Pichetshote
Illustrated by Aaron Campbell
Colored by Jose Villarrubia
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 14th, 2018
I've got a great deal for you on an apartment in New York City. Why is the rent so cheap? Oh, no biggie. There was a mass murder here not that long ago, but you're OK with that, right? That's the setting for Infidel and it's somehow the least scary thing about the comic. The new series follows Aisha, a Muslim woman living in this murder building. There's definitely something creepy lurking within and Aisha is having terrifying nightmares and visions of monsters.
Infidel works on multiple levels. First, there's the uncomfortable casual racism exhibited by Aisha's soon-to-be mother-in-law, Leslie. The older woman will conveniently forget that Aisha doesn't eat pork or she'll clutch her bag close to her when a black man walks by her on the subway. Aisha's fiancé Tom is fed up with his mother's crap and doesn't trust her. To her credit, Leslie seems calm and reasonable when she's first introduced, however after Tom's accusations, you see her in a whole new light. It presents a rather unsettling image, like there's a hidden agenda to everything she says and does, particularly what comes up in the final pages of this issue.
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Artist Aaron Campbell paints a picture of utter normalcy with these seemingly peaceful images of Aisha's home life. These contrast to a frightening double-page spread that opens the comic of a disfigured and otherworldly monster looming over Aisha. How can such a normal world surround such a disturbing creature?
The monster appears in a different style to the rest of the artwork, like it really is from a completely other dimension, pushing through into our world to terrify Aisha. This comes up again later on and it's just as creepy. It looks like a distorted photograph, almost like something that would have come from a freakshow decades ago. It's this realness that really gets under your skin, like it might look up at any moment and meet your gaze, staring right into your soul.
Writer Pornsak Pichetshote pulls us completely into Aisha's life. It's easy to instantly relate to her, which makes the horrors she goes through all the more alarming. There is a rather tense moment towards the end of the issue where I turned the page and let out an audible gasp. I didn't see it coming and it scared the crap out of me. Infidel is full of those kind of moments, which makes it such a great read.
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There's one such confrontation with a monster that had me screaming at the page. It's a cringe-worthy sequence in the best way. I didn't want to look, but I had to and just thinking about it now is making me squirm. This is top-notch terror.
Much of this comes from Jose Villarrubia's colors. The darkness seems to envelop Aisha, creating a claustrophobic feeling of dread. This building is haunted and you get that vibe right away. This is not a place you want to walk around in during the night. No one would make fun of you if you slept with a nightlight in this building.
Infidel is a shocking comic. It's an early pick for one of the best horror comics of the year. It will chill you to the bone and not just because of the horrifying visions the main character endures. The solicitation information for the book reveals the house is haunted by “entities that feed off xenophobia,” which isn't entirely clear in this first chapter, but really puts everything into context. Based on that, I am scared for what might be in store for Aisha in the coming issues.