"Infidel #3" ComicReview
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Pornsak Pichetshote
Illustrated by Aaron Campbell
Colored by Jose Villarrubia
Lettered by Jeff Powell
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on May 16th, 2018
The apartment building haunted by racist ghosts somehow gets creepier. Aisha is in the hospital after a recent encounter with the spectral entities and she's not the only one. The previous issue of Infidel ends with a startling scene. This one gives us a moment to catch our breath and regroup a bit before ratcheting up the terror once again.
Public opinion on what really happened in the building is split. Some think Aisha pushed an elderly woman and a young girl down the stairs, killing the former and injuring the latter. Others think the pair fell. Somewhat unsurprisingly, these feelings are divided based on race. White people immediately think she pushed them, but what if they saw her do it?
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This leads to one of the most dramatic and unsettling scenes in Infidel. Aisha's close friend Medina confronts the accuser, trying to get to the bottom of this. It is an uncomfortable conversation that could not be more relevant. Artist Aaron Campbell's images force us into this discussion. There is no escaping it. It's amazing to see how this woman's face goes from cheerful and peppy to absolutely terrified in one fell swoop. Her eyes go wide as she instantly becomes shocked and offended in a move we've seen play out over and over again in real life.
The panel layout gets more varied as the conversation heats up. The image shapes become more angular, each one becoming sharper to match the scathing cuts of the dialogue. Colorist Jose Villarrubia seals the deal with some red-tinged panels, possibly from the point of view of the ghosts as they prepare to feast on such raw emotion.
We've known for a bit that the ghosts in this place feed off of xenophobia thanks to descriptions of the series. This issue makes that somewhat clearer as they appear in moments of strong racial tension. Campbell has outdone himself with this one in a truly shocking page turn. It is one of the most disturbing images of the year and I'm honestly having trouble looking at it when trying to describe it in this review.
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In speaking with him and writer Pornsak Pichetshote on a recent episode of Funny Book Splatter, Campbell took steps to visually differentiate the ghosts on the page. It works extremely well here, as they stand out and look completely unnatural. This is something that should not exist and your mind will fight its very appearance.
We also get a rundown on the history of the building, which has only been hinted at up until this point. Some of Aisha's neighbors recount the traumatic events that almost destroyed the place, but on the plus side did give them a great deal on rent in New York City, which is tough to beat. This is a lot of information to sift through and Pichetshote delivers it through a casual conversation between friends that pulls you in. It looks to the past and the future by filling in the background of the setting while also pushing the story forward. It helps that this is shown in a gorgeous and bloody double-page spread.
Infidel is a horror comic like no other, hitting all the right marks to deliver a book packed with scares. It's the kind of story that will seep into your bones to shake you at your very core. You might want to read this with the lights on.