Infinity 8 vol. 6: Ultimate Knowledge (#1 – 3) – Emmanuel Guibert, Lewis Trondheim

4 out of 5

Lewis Trondheim has concocted a wonderfully quirky excuse for a kinda-sorta anthology series: the captain of the ship Infinity 8 has the ability to reset the timeline a certain amount of times, which is now being employed to investigate a mass grave out in space; each reset allows Trondheim to invite in a new co-scripter and artist to take on a new set of characters and imagine a potential calamity that occurs during sussing out the Why of the site… with that calamity definitely requiring starting over for the next volume.

We’ve gotten a range of genre-inflected romps, and they all, mostly, have strayed very far from the actual problem: people get obsessed with something tangential, which causes everything to go to shit, often hilariously (and bloodily).  In our sixth take, Ultimate Knowledge, a customs officer and a historian form our odd couple detectives (she’s dry-humored and quick to kill; he can’t believe her disregard for life), and it actually seems like we’re not only going to get some legitimate story details this time around, but that there might not be some world-rending reason requiring the reset, either.

Both of those remain mostly true: we do learn some things about the mass grave, and while our leads to interact with a potential danger, it’s dealt with in an amusingly off-handed fashion, and then they’re on about their business.  Their camaraderie is also a wonderful highlight, served by artist Franck Biancarelli’s lovely art – like INJ Culbard, only with a legit sense of framing and an ability to detail backgrounds and colors, making the first couple of issues of this already-fun series both fun and sort of laid back at the same time, which is refreshing compared to the oft-heightened momentum experienced in the other volumes.

The third issue is when a juggling act begins, however: there’s a weird plot element that maybe didn’t get translated well and so seem to come out of nowhere, and there’s a last minute ante-up of stakes that feels wholly unnecessary, as it’s not actually connected to the inevitable reset.  However, taking in those hiccups, it’s still a madly entertaining issue – I really dug the way these characters played off of one another – and the ending is kind of abrupt, but gives us some further juicy details on whatever may be going on.