Review: “Infinity – A Tale of the Inferno” (Caliber Comics, Festival of Dread Special)

Welcome back to the Festival of Dread, The Splintering’s month-long celebration of all things deadly and demonic!

Today, we’re going to take a look at Infinity – A Tale of the Inferno, a supernatural miniseries published by Caliber Comics in 2019.*

Written by Chad Strohl and featuring art by Kamil Boettcher and Lukasz Marko, Infinity is a modern story set in the Nine Circles of Hell from Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of The Divine Comedy. The hero of the story is Detective John Dante, who ventures into Hell to save the soul of his wife who was mysteriously killed by a supernatural villain. Detective Dante does this by using a mysterious brand/tattoo that allows him to open mystical doors that are normally closed to mortals, even the doors between life and death. Through his journey, Dante receives aid from several other of Hell’s residents, some of whom have their own personal demons with which to contend.

The main story – that of Detective Dante’s trip between the Circles of Hell, is all told chronologically. The aspects of the story that came before – namely the events that led up to his wife’s death – are told via flashbacks that are not in chronological order. The different narratives are woven together deftly enough so that they are never too confusing, and the artistic use of color helps to key the reader in when jumping between past and present.

Without a doubt, Infinity is a very dark story, but it’s not completely hopeless. I found many of the major story beats were similar to the Robin Williams movie What Dreams May Come (based on the 1978 book by Richard Matheson), which similarly features a hero who journeys into an Inferno-inspired underworld to rescue the soul of his wife. Infinity also requires that the reader have a decent familiarity with Dante Alighieri’s original epic to really understand what is going on in the netherworld. If you haven’t been exposed to the original Inferno, don’t expect for Infinity to get you fully spun up. You can still follow the main narrative well enough, but much of the setting’s impact, both artistically and thematically, will be lost on you.

The supernatural powers at play also remain a mystery even to the end, as the powers of the infinity glyph, a simmering uprising in Hell, and the true nature and motivations of the main villain are never fully explained. If you are one of those readers who wants the curtain pulled back to reveal a complete set of logical underpinnings, you will not get that in Infinity.

The artwork in Infinity – A Tale of the Inferno conveys the sense of sorrow, torture, and unease very well. This is all complemented by the colors as mentioned above, which tosses the reader between fiery oranges and sickly greenish-blues, setting a fitting mood and helping to distinguish rapid setting changes. I personally enjoyed the look of Hell’s residents, which range from tortured souls, demons, and mythological monsters such as the three-headed Cerberus. The artists frequently use a blur effect during some of the most intense battle scenes, and while this sometimes looks good, there are some occasions where it confuses the action and makes it difficult to follow.

He said shut your holes!

As someone who has read and enjoyed the original Divine Comedy, I found Infinity – A Tale of the Inferno to be a worthwhile exploration of Dante Alighieri’s ideas in a modern setting. The narrative is both haunting and touching, even if What Dream May Come stole its thunder a bit. Despite a few murky moments, I felt that the sketchy compositions and vivid color schemes were a fine complement to the narrative. If you are a stranger to the original Inferno epic or don’t count yourself as a fan, then you probably aren’t going to enjoy Infinity to its fullest extent.

If you are interested in picking a copy of Infinity – A Tale of the Inferno for yourself, you can order one directly from Caliber Comics here for $19.99.

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to check out more of The Splintering’s Festival of Dread content, click here!

* Disclosure: A digital copy of Infinity: A Tale of the Inferno was provided to The Splintering for the purpose of this review.

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