Written by: Pornsak Pichetshote
Art/Cover by: Aaron Campbell, José Villarrubia
Variant Covers by: José Villarrubia and Jae Lee
A striking first issue which wastes no time in diving right into the salient contemporary issue of xenophobia and how our protagonist Aisha faces and copes with this in her daily life. You could almost believe the story could reflect real life…If not for the creatures lurking in the dark.
What Just Happened:
Infidel follows the life of an American Muslim woman, Aisha, who lives in an apartment in America with her white American fiancé, Tom, his daughter, Kris, and his mother, Leslie. The story begins by exploring themes of passive aggression aimed at Aisha for her religious beliefs, with these incidents being played off by the perpetrators as harmless ignorance. This is where we really get a sense of Aisha’s personality, as we see that she chooses to give the benefit of the doubt to others, even to people who have made her feel uncomfortable or even marginalized.
Not only does Infidel explore the way Muslims are treated in America, but it also gives insight into the guilt and repercussions that someone might face when they engage with practices that are unconventional to one’s home or faith. In this case, we experience how Aisha’s family reacted to her being engaged to a non-Muslim and how this has affected Aisha.
Infidel brings these themes of personal struggle together to create a story that feels faithful to the real-life experiences of many Muslim individuals living in America. Perhaps this authenticity is what makes the idea of an otherworldly creature creeping through the shadows so unnerving; by integrating the concept of a horror waiting to strike into such a life-like story, it makes it feel all the more real.
Boldly unafraid to confront the topics of racism, xenophobia and present-day family complications, Infidel has set itself up to be a thought-provoking series pertinent to the current time period and political climate that we live in. Aisha is an incredibly likable character, which made me empathize with her more throughout the story. The grittiness of the art style aids in both creating a believable atmosphere, as well as a sense of foreboding in the reader. Paired with the dramatic irony woven into the plot, this creates a thoroughly entertaining and eerie issue. This issue succeeds in giving the reader a creeping suspicion that something is amiss throughout, keeping them on the edge of their seat, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The part of this issue I enjoyed most was the symbolism. The idea of creatures that feed off of xenophobia is incredibly clever because it represents the harmful monster that xenophobia is and causes people to be in the present day. To have a concept that is so frightening to so many people on a daily basis come to life, has the potential to be absolutely terrifying and I look forward to seeing where Infidel takes this idea.
If I had to be critical of one thing about this issue, it would be that I wanted to see more horror! Because this issue was so centered around setting up the plot with Aisha’s life and backstory, we only got a glimpse of the horror element. If anything though, this just makes me want to pick up the next issue.