Infinite Frontier blew me away last week — it was my favorite comic of the week on the AIPT Comics podcast — and this week a special anthology one-shot follows it with a variety of stories. This new anthology features 72 pages and six total stories all told via tape recordings being listened to by Bones at the Department of Extranormal Operations. These are records from other dimensions and Bones is cataloging them to better understand what is going on since the DC universe had its most recent change. As a tie-in, it does well to have enough stories to complement the main event, but it never feels like required reading either.
This issue opens with an Earth 23 story focused on President Superman with a story by Brandon Thomas and Joshua Williamson, and art by Valentine De Landro. One of the stronger stories in the book, this tale is centered on Superman trying to find some time in his day for himself. With his trusty robot Kelex, we get to experience a day in the life of President Superman nearly minute to minute. It opens with him in the White House telling his staff they can’t expect Superman to save the day all the time. He’s trying to make the people who can save lives better and more self-relient, but he’s also tasked with saving Earth from villains and disasters all day, too. The art in this story uses thicker ink work and a simpler style that allows the colors by Marissa Louuise and Triona Farrell to pop. It’s a nice reminder there are heroes of all types and they live very full lives outside of the main universe.
Next up is a story written by Stephanie Phillips and Josh Williamson with colors by Nick Filardi. This tale is about Roy Harper and the complex life and different roles he’s had. It mostly focuses on a bar fight, but it’s his inability to give up when his chips are down, and what he does when someone is in danger, that speaks towards his character.
Dan Watters and Williamson write the next story with Stephen Byrne on art and color. This tale features Alan Scott aka Green Lantern’s kids Todd Rice and Jennie-Lynn on an Earth saving adventure. They’re from Earth-2 and are facing an enemy who wasn’t supposed to come around for quite a while, but due to recent events decided to check out their planet once again. It’s a nice reminder of the unfamiliar sibling relationship between these two characters as well as their unique powers. Todd can travel through shadows while Jennie-Lynn has energy projection via the Starheart. Todd’s abilities using shadow are visualized in a very cool way by Byrne and the story in general has a stronger feel due to the relationships of these characters.
Thomas and Williamson are back on story duties with Inaki Miranda and Nick Filardi on art in a story that has Earth-0 and Earth-23 fighting. This story features a lot of heroes and a tough spot for our heroes who must escape a thought\ problem. It also helps remind us heroes from different dimensions can play nice.
Phillips is back with Phil Hester on art, Ande Parks on inks, and Filardi on colors in a tale about Boomerang seemingly turned into a hulking monster like Mr. Hyde. This tale utilizes Bones in a more direct way which helps convey the fact that they aren’t simply listening to tapes but are actively doing things to aid the Department of Extranormal Operations. The art works splendidly with this story and continues the trend of Bones being super cool looking in different ways by the variety of artists. Here, we get a very cool montage that recaps Bones’ previous stories as well as some fun action that plays with space well.
The last story has Watters teaming up with artist Christopher Mitten and Dave Stewart on colors featuring Psycho-Pirate and a job interview to join him. This might be the most important story of the bunch, especially since Psycho-Pirate features prominently in Infinite Frontier #1. This is all about the dialogue and the pacing is perfect. A stranger must answer three questions correctly to share Pyscho Pirate’s power. It’s fun to hear this man’s answers and hear how Pyscho-Pirate reacts. There’s a lot on the line and a lot of tension. Mitten’s art is great for this piece, too, as his style, usually seen in Hellboy comics, suits the weird, mythical nature of this test. This all leads to quite a reveal later on, and a story that finally forces Bones to stop listening to these tapes.
This is a good anthology with multiple must-read stories. Infinite Frontier: Secret Files is a great way to experience different versions of familiar heroes, or heroes we never get to see at all. More importantly, it reinforces the idea that the multiverse is filled with incredible tales and heroes — we’d be dumb to think one universe was ever enough.
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