Set in the endless void of space, with humanity down to its last 2000 survivors, Infinite Dark‘s first issue benefits from a clarity of vision that carries it through the relative slowness of its introduction to both characters and narrative hook.
It’s clear that writer Ryan Cady and artist Andrea Mutti have a finite end in store for security officer Deva Karrell and her seemingly doomed compatriots aboard the “void station” Orpheus — the last of their kind — as Cady introduces both human elements and extraterrestrial ones (spooky blood runes!) deftly to play off each other in dynamic ways. And, on that premise and tension alone, the book is a success. I found myself relating to Deva, to her obviously time-hardened edge but inner softness, and to her frustrations with the way that the people she relies on have undermined her time and time again — issues which I hope don’t melt away in favor of the more grandiose bits introduced later but are rather empowered by them.
It’s unfortunate then that the issue takes so long to get to the meat of those elements – taking nearly half of its length to introduce its central premise (the station’s first murder) and until near the end to build upon it. This kind of pacing isn’t entirely uncommon in introductory issues, but with as much dialogue and narration that’s crowding pages here it seems especially protracted.
Similarly, Mutti’s effort is somewhat subdued until the narrative’s thematic shift away from interpersonal drama – crowding the first half of the book with uninteresting, plain, character shots that lack a dynamic positioning or element to engage save for an expansive view of the Orpheus. When things do get rolling though, they really do as the static panels of the issue’s first half break away to a compelling, dark and psychedelic robustness that casts long, sinister feeling shadows across our central characters and their world alike in sharp contrast to colorist K. Michael Russel’s rough, spray-paint like abstractionism to great effect. I’m interested to see, supernatural or extraterrestrial elements introduced as they are, to see if the stakes are ramped up in the next or coming issues because the later pages here indicate that Mutti has the knack for delivering those elements thrillingly.
Ultimately, Infinite Dark‘s first issue feels spartan but approachable, slow but intriguing, compelling and frustrating in equal measure. I’m hopeful that the clarity of Cady and Mutti’s vision, as they’ve obviously gravitated to each other due to how well their respective talents play off each other, will carry this story in interesting directions but I’m not entirely sold just yet.