Infidel is the story of a Muslim girl and her non-Muslim boyfriend who lives with his mother and daughter in an apartment undergoing renovations. The reason for these renovations is because of a recent explosion in the building. This event is one of the main sources of tension that fuel the story’s narrative and conflicts.
Infidel is a horror comic as much as it is a commentary on Islamophobia, interracial relationships, and racism in general. The series has been described as a mix of Get Out and Insidious since the building is haunted by malevolent creatures that feed off xenophobia and hatred.
There isn’t much time to get settled in as the story grabs you fast and doesn’t let go. In the beginning, we see Aisha, who lies in bed, telling the reader of a time in college where she left some meat out before taking a trip. When she comes back the stench of rotting flesh welcomes her. But she can smell that now in her bedroom. The source comes from the infestation in her apartment.
Even when there are times that the text tells instead of shows, the narration and dialogue feels natural. Characters interact and there is real tension in their words. This reflects our own lives when issues of racism and fear might arise. This helps bring Infidel into a real place where we as the reader can relate to some degree.
Not all Things Need to be Known
Every issue in this 5-issue arc matters as well. I appreciate that the story starts off strong and continues to build. As things progress, we find out more about what exactly happened in this apartment, but we never find out everything. There’s something to appreciate in that since we as the reader only get enough. As mysteries unravel more are added to the pile.
In a time where racism is being challenged regularly, characters in media sometimes become less than human and more caricatures. Infidel strays from that since the character’s actions in the series can sometimes be justified. Fear is a real emotion that can skew even the most rational thinking person.
All Aspects of Art Unify to Scare
One of the biggest draws to this book is definitely the art. There is a tone throughout the story that is reflected perfectly on the pages. The emotions of fear, anger, rage, suspicion, and hatred really show in the illustrations, inks, and colors.
The designs of the creatures are grotesque and make me feel disturbed just looking at them. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have some monster like that climbing on me. Each monster is grimy and whenever they show up they are there to violate.
Kudos to Aaron Campbell and Jose Villarrubia on their inks and colors as the two work in unison to create images that are gritty. Even with all the dark spaces and shadows, there is a balance because of brighter colors that never weigh you down. The tones in the colors are a great choice too. Since Villarrubia softens them, it doesn’t hurt your eyes to look at.
Because the inks are done so well at creating shadows there isn’t, and doesn’t have to be, so many gradients in the colors. The only times where the colors aren’t mostly flat is when something of terror happens, which helps to really show the severity of the situation.
The art really helps me to appreciate the book on a deeper level since it can be so unsettling. There are moments where I don’t want to look at the next panel, for fear of what’s coming.
Infidel’s feelings manifest into horrors
Infidel is a series that works on many levels and doesn’t give in to easy stereotypes. Like the real world, issues of racism and xenophobia are layered. No one is without his or her faults and sometimes fears are justified because of a person’s experiences.
The characters all have their set of insecurities and worries that display the complexity and variety of social issues we all face. Infidel touches on that, while showing that, justified or not, these fears can manifest into something terrifying.