5 out of 5
There are certainly writers who constantly churn out new books – Bendis, Cullen Bunn – but I find that often either comes at a sacrifice of quality, or ends up in a pretty clear repetition of ideas, or just emphasizes – via frequency – a lack of skill that was always present. Since filling up publishing schedules is undoubtedly a paying gig, we can see this pattern fairly often. …Less often – much less often – do we see writers like Lewis Trondheim, who seem to deliver a new project / book every other week, and whose oeuvre couldn’t be more diverse from title to title. Not everything is a knock out, but a goddamned surprising majority of it is, and the excess energy abundant in most of his work helps to elevate those titles which may not quite make the high watermark.
With publisher Lion Forge’s re-presentation of Magnetic Collection books, they managed to snare the English version of Infinity 8, Lewis Trondheim’s (along with various partners in crime) sci-fi time-travel pulpy hoot which features the writer’s trademark combo of casual violence and casual sexuality wrapped within a not-really-all-ages-but-kinda-sorta??? vibe. This combo never ceases to amaze, and while its expression occasionally wanders questionably afield (thinking of some of Dungeon’s excesses), Infinity 8 holds its bemused gaze solidly throughout, our writers and artist crafting one of the most satisfying, compressed space yarns I’ve read in quite some time.
Explaining the nature of the title in part ruins the joy of discovering the setup, but, sure, there’s time travel involved, which allows Trondheim and Zep to make this something of an anthology title all surrounding one space ship. For this first arc, Love and Mummies, illustrated by Dominique Bertail, our ship runs into an odd graveyard of hundreds of different bodies (of various alien origin, drawn with obsessive and exciting detail and Bertail), sending out space police Agent Keren to investigate. There’s an imposed ticking-bomb time limit, upon which the ante is inevitably upped when something spurs a threat upon the ship, and directly upon Keren as well. Toss into the mix of love-lorn alien with a penchant for eating corpses and you have the ingredients for one of those this-shouldn’t-work-but-it-does Trondheim stews.
An odd compliment, perhaps, but something I loved: the lettering. This is further impressive considering that it’s a translation, which I also must compliment, as there were absolutely 0 language stutters that crop up in such ports. The translation is credited to Jeremy Melloul; “localization, layout, and editing” to Mike Kennedy; we’ll nod to the both of them for helping to make this book feel / read like a standout, with its organic lettering really matching the laid-back space-romp vibe and the cover / back cover / backmatter design selling the Infinity 8 “experience” as a synonymous and unique one.
And Bertail, and a graveyard equals maggots in every panel and it is glorious. Unbelievably cool stuff that’s got me itching for the next arc.